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Fabulous champions at Duke Challenger final gala

Posted by on January 21, 2021

Fabulous champions at Duke Challenger final gala

© Ton Smilde
Torbjörn Blomdahl had to put up a tough fight with Eddy Merckx

NISTELRODE - Four great and fabulous champions in European and global three cushion will face each other on the final day of the Duke Challenge to battle for the overall victory. Dick Jaspers did not disappoint his Dutch fans in the late afternoon session of the quarter-finals. The four-time world champion is the only one of four Dutch and three Belgians to remain for the final matches. Swede Torbjörn Blomdahl, Italian Marco Zanetti and Turk Tayfun Tasdemir are the three other final players. Zanetti and Tasdemir will first meet each other on Friday morning at 10.00, then, right after the match, at 11.15 the classic between two eternal rivals takes place: Jaspers and Blomdahl.

The Dutch opening gala of the new and still unpredictable European billiard year will come to the apotheosis it deserves. The four well known finalists, who emerged as the winners from the two-day prelude, can finally play again for an attractive victory premium. Torbjörn Blomdahl, against Eddy Merckx, and Tayfun Tasdemir, against Peter Ceulemans, both needed a five-set match to reach the semi-finals, Dick Jaspers (against Murat Naci Coklu) and Marco Zanetti (against Martin Horn) finished in short 3-0 matches, Jaspers with the best on average of the final four 2,727), followed by Zanetti with 2,143, Blomdahl with 2,059 and Tasdemir with 1,842.

Dick Jaspers closed the day impressively in his match with Murat Naci Coklu. The Dutchman won his first set 10-0 in two (8 and 2), the second 10-9 in 6 after Coklu had missed one set point, and finally the fourth 10-5 in three (2-5-3) for a 30-14 overall score. The most striking comment of the Dutchman in the interview afterwards: ,,I realized how easy the break shot is. Maybe that is because of the Virtual Challenge tournaments of UMB, where we played endlessly from the break.''

Torbjörn Blomdahl needed a tough come-back against Eddy Merckx after being 2-0 down in sets. The Belgian started furiously: 10-0 in 2 (9 and 1), 10-5 in 5 innings. Blomdahl later confessed: ''Merckx was fantastic in these first sets, I could only hope that he allowed me some more chances.''

''Then'', Merckx commented, ''I had a drop, but I must admit that Torbjörn ran out very well and also defended very strongly. I closed the third set with two misses, in the fourth and fifth set I faced such hard positions, that I could not score anymore." The score board confirmed his comment. Merckx had five misses in 11 attempts in his last three sets. Torbjörn, who analyzed the importance of defending in these short matches in the tv interview, switched tactics and took advantage of Merckx's lesser part: 10-5 in 5 in the third set, 10-4 in 4 in the fourth and 10-3 in 3 in the deciding fifth set: 2,059 against 1,882 on average.

Marco Zanetti defeated Martin Horn in the first quarter final rounds in a one-way match, because the German had a weak start and could not return into the match. Zanetti's victory 3-0 after set scores 10-0, 10-4 and 10-6 was more than deserved. ''I know how dangerous Martin can be, we fought thrilling matches together, but today he couldn't find his feelings and rhythm.'' The averages, 2,143 and 0,833 (best run Zanetti 9).

Tayfun Tasdemir was more in danger during his match with Peter Ceulemans, who eliminated Semih Sayginer on the first day and also showed his fighting spirit to his next Turkish opponent. The Belgian won the toss and the first set: 10-4 in 4. Tasdemir countered brilliantly with 10-0 (1 inning), but was put against the wall again by Ceulemans in the third set: 10-1 in six. The score was levelled by Tasdemir (10-3 in 5), after which the fifth set had to decide.

Ceulemans missed the break shot and was punished for it. ''That was a mistake that I couldn't afford,'' he realized later in the Ziggo interview. Tasdemir, who surely needed a 'break' in the match, ran out to 7-2 in that decisive fifth after Ceulemans' missed breakout and won comfortably 10-3 in 5. Yet, Ceulemans was more than satisfied with his performance, in which he more than lived up to the invitation. ''I feel that my best form is not far away. We just must hope that we can show it again very soon,'' he said in the final interview.


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