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Dick Jaspers glorious winner Duke Challenge

Posted by on January 22, 2021

Dick Jaspers glorious winner Duke Challenge

© Ton Smilde
Dick Jaspers, the winner, Marco Zanetti, the finalist and Harry Mathijssen, the organizer

NISTELRODE - The gesture of triumph after Dick Jaspers made his winning point at the Duke Challenge felt like a glorious new start of the billiard year 2021. The Dutchman, who leads the world ranking in three cushion, defeated on the final day of 'De Duke' two other players from the top three: Swede Torbjörn Blomdahl in the semi-final 3-0, Italian Marco Zanetti in the final 3 -1. The 55-year-old Challenge winner in his own country, who only played world-class averages, was rewarded by a main prize of 16,000 euros afterwards. Jaspers praised the organization, the ambiance and the new 2021 start that players and spectators have been looking forward to in his speech.

''I'm very grateful for the super nice invitation from Jumbo and the organization. This is so important for national and international three cushion,'' the champion said in his interview. ''We all really enjoyed the new playing format, with short sets, lots of excitement and speed. It is a revelation for billiards today, as evidenced by the many wonderful reactions. I certainly expect that we will face international talks about this event, taking this further, because billiards increasingly is becoming a television sport.''

In the idyllic surroundings of the Duke golf court, where the Brabant organizers of BEN received the European three-cushion top, spectators were not allowed on the stands these three tournament days. That lack was more than compensated by Ziggo Sport, that broadcasted all matches and interviews live and showed generous numbers in a viewership survey. The playing system was attractive, with the matches on one table and flashy games. The world ranked top five ran into the apotheosis of the tournament at high level, in which Dick Jaspers, Marco Zanetti, Torbjörn Blomdahl and Tayfun Tasdemir remained as the protagonists.

Dick Jaspers, who has gradually adapted to faster systems, tv interest and excitement in the major tournaments and championships throughout his career, was able to demonstrate how he can deal with pressure and expectations in the Duke Challenge. The four-time world champion, a way better than the others, playing 2,780 on average, was superior in the final phase, was only threatened by Roland Forthomme in the first knock-outs (3-2 with a decisive set of 10 points in one inning), raged over Murat Naci Coklu in the next session (3- 0, 30 in 11), stunned Torbjörn Blomdahl with the same score (3-0, 30 in 8) and finally was in danger only once against Marco Zanetti, in the second set, after he won the first 10-1 in two innings. The showdown was completed in the last two sets, 10-4 and 10-2, both in four sets for a final score of 3-1 (averages 2,467/1,214).

Marco Zanetti had qualified for the final by beating Tayfun Tasdemir 3-1 (1,696/1,136) with a remarkably modest Turkish opponent, who was awakened very early, because he and the other Turkish players had to be tested for COVID again before their return trip to Turkey. Tayfun further complained of an arm injury.

Marco Zanetti played a strong and solid tournament, without reaching high averages, but in his well-known style, full of passion and with the unmistakable class, which makes the Italian one of the best players in history. Just like Dick Jaspers, whom he defeated in the final at the Sharm El Sheik World Cup in 2019, his eternal rival.

The final ranking at the Duke Challenge:

1 Dick Jaspers 8-2,780-10
2 Marco Zanetti 6-1,511-9
3 Torbjörn Blomdahl 4-1,930-7
3 Tayfun Tasdemir 4-1,796-10
5 Eddy Merkx 2-1,916-9
6 Murat Naci Coklu 2-1,633-5
7 Peter Ceulemans 2-1,600-6
8 Martin Horn 2-1,593-8
9 Roland Forthomme 0-1,866-7
10 Jérémy Bury 0-1,800-10
11 Jean van Erp 0-1,473-8
12 Gwendal Maréchal 0-1,444-5
13 Semih Sayginer 0-1,400-10
14 Jeffrey Jorissen 0-1,250-3
15 Joey de Kok 0-1,166-5
16 Antonio Montes 0-0,805-3.

Dick Jaspers, in his own country, the best of all with a 2,780 average

The world's number one and two on top of stage at the Duke Challenge


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