Friday 11th May, Santo Domingo de la Calzada
OLAIZOLA I beat ARITZ LASA 22-9
Not much has been seen of Asier Olaizola recently, missing as he did the Pairs Championship, so it was anybody’s guess as to what he would bring to the table here. Aritz Lasa was more of a known quantity; although his Pairs campaign was less that brilliant, he looked utterly in control in beating a rusty Aitor Zubieta last week and on that performance he was surely the favourite on Friday. However, Lasa is nothing if not inconsistent and he endured a torrid evening against Olaizola, who proved that he can be a player in this tournament.
Lasa took the first point with a service winner but sadly for the man from Urretxu, this was to prove the high point of his match as he never led again. He played with great confidence to draw level with Olaizola at 2-2, bombing his opponent with high balls until he fell short, but thereafter it was a different story. Olaizola took the score from 2-2 to 8-3 in the blink of an eye, dominating both with the serve and in the more attritional rallies. He proved adept at creating space into which to hit clear winners, using the dos paredes twice to great effect. Lasa threatened a revival, coming to within two points at 6-8, thanks to a winner into space out wide and a beautifully placed cross court ball, but Olaizola replied with five straight points, consistently ruling the front of the playing area and sending his opponent back into desperate defence. Lasa managed three more points, two of those thanks to momentary lapses from Olaizola, but it was otherwise one way traffic for the remainder of the match as 14-9 became 22-9. Olaizola used his serve extremely effectively and almost never let Lasa into a tactical position of strength. When Lasa did have a chance at a winner, and a golden opportunity to build some momentum of his own, he blew the easy txoko winner. This was the final nail in the coffin as Olaizola marched on apace. A high strike from Lasa on 9-21 sealed his annihilation.
Asier Olaizola now joins his more illustrious younger brother in the quarter finals, where he will play Mikel Idoate on Sunday. On the strength of this display, he has a significant chance but Idoate will come at him full of determination with a place in the last four for the taking.
Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 5-2, 5-3, 8-3, 8-6, 13-6, 13-8, 14-8, 14-9, 22-9.
Winners/errors: Olaizola 12/4 with 3 service winners, Lasa 5/10 with no service winners