4 1/2: Irujo storms into the final by frontonnews
November 23, 2009, 5:51 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , , ,

Sunday 22nd November, Astelena, Eibar

MARTINEZ DE IRUJO beat TITIN III 22-11

Sebastian Gonzalez must have girded up his loins for a tense afternoon on Sunday, as the result of the match between Titin III and Juan Martinez de Irujo had a direct bearing on whether he himself would reach the final. As things turned out, by game’s mid point, he may well have been relaxing contentedly with a cup of tea as Irujo’s dominance was never in doubt. For Titin it was victory or quits and the latter was, emphatically, his destiny.

Astelena was packed to the rafters for what many believed would be one of the matches of the championship. Irujo and Titin are both renowned for the intensity both of their play and of their demeanour and with so much at stake matters seemed set to be white hot. The crowd, who bedecked the arena in banners and Riojan flags, were primed for a fight but were left unfulfilled, for there was nothing Titin could do to quench Irujo’s fire. For at least the first four points, affairs were close as the players traded both blows and errors to find themselves locked at 2-2. From that point on however, Irujo located the accelerator and went. The man from Ibero moved from 5-4 to 17-4 with seamless ease. This period of play was peppered with errors by Titin, including a moment of clouded judgement when he left a ball he thought was long. Irujo for his part hit winners at will, mixing powerful hooks and deft drops in a display of breathtaking pace and utter confidence. Titin, who usually appears furious and incredulous when under the cosh, could muster only disbelief and resignation.

However, Titin would not be Titin without the stomach for a battle and the Riojan mustered a fightback of sorts. He broke Irujo’s incredible run of points when the latter could not scoop up a dipping ball close to the frontis, and won the next two in quick time with a dosparedes and a long service return from Irujo. Irujo took back the initiative and advanced to 19-7, almost within touching distance of the final, but his opponent was not yet done and reacted with four points in a row courtesy of a string of uncharacteristic errors from his opponent. But any doubts about Irujo’s ability to close out the match were swiftly dispelled. Titin rallied impressively but in reality the die was cast; two more errors from Titin followed by a signature hook and the game was up.

This was an impressively clinical display from Irujo who knew precisely what he had to do and did the job without a flicker of self doubt. While Gonzalez must be delighted with his final ticket, part of him must be quaking at the thought of playing an Irujo in such rampant form. Irujo finds himself in his third major final of the year and Gonzalez is the only man between him and a clean sweep. The two will meet at Atano III on 8th December.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 5-2, 5-4, 17-4, 17-7, 19-7, 19-11 and 22-11.

Irujo: clinical

Image from: El Correo Digital

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4 1/2: Gonzalez triumphs but must play the waiting game by frontonnews
November 23, 2009, 5:04 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , , ,

Saturday 21st November, Labrit, Pamplona

GONZALEZ beat RETEGI BI 22-12

This weekend was a tense affair for at least three of the pelotaris involved in the Cuatro y Medio semi finals, for the two tickets to the final depended on a series of outcomes. Sebastian Gonzalez, having lost to Titin III last week, had to beat Retegi Bi at Labrit on Saturday to progress. However, even victory there was not a guarantee, for if Titin were to beat Martinez de Irujo a day later, the cause would be lost. Retegi Bi, for his part, had a mathematical chance of qualification but it would have taken the miracle of a 22-2 victory for this to come to pass. Realistically he knew this was a task beyond the herculean, but he was understandably determined to have at least one victory to show for his time in the semi finals.

Gonzalez delivered on his side of the bargain and there was nothing Julen Retegi could do to stop the rot. Within two minutes, Gonzalez had raced to a 3-0 lead and condemned his young opponent to a winless exit. The result was never in serious doubt as the man from Donibane struck cleanly and dominated with his well practised combination of deep serve followed by hook winner. The match suffered from predictability and only seriously caught fire when a collision between the two players sparked a three way protest between the two players and Julen’s father and botillero, Julian Retegi, leading to a replay of the point. But this was of transient importance as Gonzalez took the victory 22-12.

Gonzalez therefore was left in limbo, having done all he could. An Irujo victory on Sunday would put him through to the coveted final but a win for Titin would send him packing. Retegi must surely be disappointed at his performance in the semi finals but must take heart from the way he got there, beating a bafflingly off colour Aimar Olaizola with play worthy of his eventual position. There is surely more to come from the promising son of the famous father.

Scoring sequence: 3-0, 3-2, 8-2, 8-4, 11-4, 11-5, 14-5, 14-7, 16-7, 16-9, 19-9, 19-12 and 22-12.

Written with the partial help of Noticias de Alava

Gonzalez won but was forced to wait

Image from Diario Vasco