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Eddy Merckx shows 'Olympic class' in Lausanne

Posted by on November 25, 2018

Eddy Merckx shows 'Olympic class' in Lausanne

© Lasanne Billiards
Eddy Merckx, a glorious year, crowned by Lausanne victory

LAUSANNE - The Olympic stronghold Lausanne was the stage for the annual event with world class players in three cushion this weekend. The Belgian Eddy Merckx won the Lausanne Billard Masters in the final against Turk Murat Naci Coklu this Sunday-afternoon. This is the week in which billiards will present itself as a candidate for the Olympic Games in 2024 in Paris. The promotional tour is in full swing, also on sporting level with all the major international tournaments. Eddy Merckx showed in Lausanne what "Olympic form" looks like. On the final day, he first defeated Dani Sánchez 40-35 in 23 and in the final Murat Naci Coklu 40-33 in 17.

The four Europeans in the final stage in the Lausanne Masters are among the protagonists in 2018. Eddy Merckx is having the best year in his career in big wins all over the world. He started the year with the Belgian title, won the Belgian Superprestige, the 3CC Masters in Seoul, the Verhoeven Open in New York, the World Cup in Seoul and this weekend the Lausanne Billard Masters, in which Merckx was accompanied to the podium by Murat Naci Coklu, Dick Jaspers and Dani Sánchez. The next stop for the World's best is the World Cup in Hurghada from December 2nd - 8th, 2018.

Eddy Merckx' invitation was a bull's eye shot for the organizers. Diane Wild could not cold-shoulder this year the most seasoned player in 2018. The Belgian rewarded her with a top performance and actually has the bad luck that he is the best in the tournaments where no ranking points are at stake. That keeps him on third place in the world ranking behind Frédéric Caudron and Dick Jaspers.

The high class of Lausanne's 2018 master was seen again when he was at his best during decisive moments. In the final against Coklu, Merckx was 28-21 down after ten innings and bowed the score to his advantage with a run of 12 (33-28). That broke Coklu's rhythm,  he couldn't come back in the last phase. In the semi-final, Merckx outplayed Dani Sánchz after an early attack with 13 and he also later in the match had the best final rush at 30-30. Murat Naci Coklu made an end to Dick Jaspers' illusions in this phase, where the tournament lost it's title holder.

Eddy Merckx commented, "I would have preferred to receive points for all those victories, of course, but these are the rules. That's why I was so happy with my World Cup win in Seoul, because it keeps me in the top of the ranking.  I'm also unlucky that there is no Player of the Year election anymore. After such a season, I would have had a chance. I don't really have an explanation for this great year. Bit more lucky in my matches, I think. It has something to do with experience, but certainly that's not the mean reason. I can score at the right moments, maybe that is one of my qualities. Here, against Blomdahl, I was 24-14 behind at the break, he made two points more and I ran out to the finish. In the final, I also was behind and I had to fight. My feeling is, that I can lose, but only when I gave it all. Then I can live with it. Yes, I must say,  it is a wonderful year and we are still playing three tournaments: first the World Cup in Hurghada, then the Ceulemans Cup in Bordeaxu and at the end the Christmas tournament. Hopefully, it will turn into a very nice end.''

The door to the final was opened for Coklu after beating Marco Zanetti on Saturday-evening and then, early Sunday morning, Dick Jaspers. The Dutch world champion missed after a glorious tournament opening the form and conviction on the final day to also hurt his Turkish opponent. Coklu had the better start with 15-8 in 6, 21-11 in 7 at the break and averaged around 3 until 30-points. Jaspers couldn't show his so feared second half, Coklu finished 40-23 in 17.

Eddy Merckx gave the uphill match against Dani Sánchez, after a nice 13 in the fifth inning, a strong finish in the other semi-final. The two players were bothered by many kisses, Dani Sánchez also by some miscues. The stoic Belgian eventually showed his feared finish. When Sánchez came along with 5 (30-30 in 21), after a long chase, Merckx started his final attack. He seemed to finish, but missed at one point by a... kiss. The winner took only one inning more: 40-35 in 23/22.

Murat Naci Coklu, stopped by Eddy Merckx in the final

Dick Jaspers missed the final with a loss to Coklu

Dani Sanchez, back on stage, only loss was aginst Eddy Merckx

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