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Murat Naci Coklu with victory back to the top

Posted by on October 30, 2016

Murat Naci Coklu with victory back to the top

© Kozoom/Korea
Murat Naci Coklu raises the silver chalice at the World Cup in La Baule

LA BAULE - The silver chalice and the ovation coming from the stands were for Murat Naci Coklu, as the glorious winner of the La Baule World Cup. The 42-year old Turk from Istanbul celebrated not only the tournament win, but also his return to the elite top-12 of the world ranking. The tournament in the French seaside town near the Atlantic was dominated by eight European players, on the final two days. Coklu overcame three-time world champion Dani Sanchez from Spain in the final. This, his second World Cup victory, following Istanbul 2015, brings the Turkish technician back amongst the greats of the sport. He came from nowhere to grab the European title in 2004, when he was not even considered a contender. In this event too, he was not amongst the favorites. "I was lucky to get through the qualifications'', confessed Coklu after his win in the final by 40-20 in 21 innings. ,,My start was not too convincing, I ended second in my flight and advanced as third of the best losers. I was an outsider this week, and I took my chance.''

The road to success was open, after Coklu had defeated Asian champion Haeng Jik Kim in the first K.O. round (40-32 in 19) and then saw off Javier Teran from Ecuador (40-26 in 19). In the quarterfinals, home player Jérôme Barbeillon was his victim (40-30 in 17) and in his last two matches, the Turk was superior. Marco Zanetti in the semi never had a chance, and Dani Sanchez, who had eliminated Torbjörn Blomdahl in a poor match, had nothing left in the tank, in the final. ,,I managed to keep my rhythm, and my opponents were no longer at their highest level'', Coklu realized.

The final was only interesting for the first ten innings. With runs of six, five and eight, Coklu did the business and closed the deal. Dani Sánchez: ,,I should almost be embarrassed after a final this bad. I felt tired after a demanding week, but also: I had no run of the ball. It just ate away at my concentration.''

At the top of the world ranking, in the weeks leading up to the world championship in Bordeaux, Frédéric Caudron was dethroned by Torbjörn Blomdahl, now again the nr. 1 and the reigning world champion. Murat Naci Coklu (on ten) and Tayfun Tasdemir (12) are new entries to the top-12, at the expense of Dong Koong Kang and Quyet Chien Tran.

Frédéric Caudron remains captain of the World Cup ranking in six tournaments. The Belgian leads with 246 points for Dick Jaspers 232, Nikos Polychronopoulos 168, Eddy Merckx 166 and Jérémy Bury with 160 points.

The French organizer Joel Switala announced during the ceremony that he next year will organize a World Cup in La Baule. The tournament in La Baule was the sixth for the World Cup cycle of UMB. The final will be played in Egypt, Hurghada.


Murat Naci Coklu raises his cue after he won the final match against Dani Sánchez

Murat Naci Coklu, the glorious winner in La Baule

The Turkish player Murat Naci Coklu, back in top ten of the ranking


Murat Naci Coklu at the start of the match on his way to a riant lead

Murat Naci Coklu, back in top twelve on the world ranking


Murat Naci Coklu-Marco Zanetti

The match between Murat Naci Coklu and Marco Zanetti, emphatically won by Coklu, 40-22 in 25 innings, was cause for much debate about a point in the thirteenth inning. The referee counted the point made by Murat Naci Coklu, and Marco Zanetti stood up, thereby indicating that it was a miss. Coklu said: I did not see it. The replay was not totally conclusive, and Coklu decided to agree with Zanetti. The debate did not go away: many saw it as a valid point, many others as a miss.

Coklu had a much better start than Zanetti, and with runs of five in the third inning and again five in the seventh, he built up a 20-4 lead at the break. The resistance of the Italian by then, was de facto broken. With 27-13, 33-14 and 36-19, Coklu reached the finish at 40-22 in 25 innings. Murat: ,,At the end, I lost a bit of focus because Marco was nowhere to be seen and could not find his stroke. It turned into a strange match, not the type I had expected at all.'' Marco: ,,I was not my usual self, I had no feel, no stroke, there was no harmony in my head. I could explain why, but I'd rather keep that to myself.''

Dani Sánchez-Torbjörn Blomdahl

Dani Sanchez called his match against Blomdahl (40-38 in 31) "the worst match we've ever played between the two of us". It was neck and neck from the first innings, and both players averaged about 1, from 15-15 in 15, 24-24 in 19 and 33-33 in 29. The question was: which of these champs would make a break, but neither did.

Dani said later: ,,Whatever we did, positions were horrible all the time. I had nothing to start with, and I left Torbjörn nothing to start with.'' Torbjörn: ,,I could only score with speed shots, because I had no feel for the smaller positions.'' The Spaniard made his move from 38-35 with a closing run of five. ,,I look forward to the final against Murat Naci Coklu. We are the same type of player. I hope it will be a good final, at a much higher level.''

Marco Zanetti, no stroke, no feeling, no harmony in my head



Dani Sánchez shows his joy after his last point in the semi-final

Dani Sánchez and Torbjörn Blomdahl in the semi-finals with a full crowd in the stands

Torbjörn Blomdahl, waiting for the point... or for the miss

Of the two French stars in the tournament, one had a disappointing event. Jeremy Bury was stopped by Marco Zanetti, and there was no third big triumph for him, after wins in New York and Guri. Jérôme Barbeillon, the other wild card, became the darling of the crowd with wins over Chi Yeon Cho and Xuan Cuong Ma. ,,My best performance in a World Cup, ever'', said Barbeillon, who thanked the home crowd for their support.

Dick Jaspers and Marco Zanetti fought a heroic battle in the quarterfinals, where the Italian played off six Jaspers and left a note in the equalizer with two equalizing. The shoot-out showed a brilliant Zanetti with eight of the break-off. Jaspers could only answer with four. The Dutchman disappeared from the tournament with the highest average of all players: 2307.

The 39-year old Vietnamese Xuan Cuong Ma did not only play the best match of the tournament (40 in 11), he was also responsible for a sensation when he eliminated the then world nr. 1 Frédéric Caudron, in the first round. Turk Hakan Incekara was the winner of the penultimate qualification round, and also the one who produced the tournament high run (16), later also made by Dani Sánchez in the quarterfinal against Tayfun Tasdemir.

The final ranking in La Baule:

1 Murat Naci Coklu 1.980
2 Dani Sánchez 1.636
3 Torbjörn Blomdahl 1.795
4 Marco Zanetti 1.632
5 Dick Jasperes 2.307
6 Tayfun Tasdemir 1.767
7 Jérôme Barbeillon 1.594
8 Nikos Polychronopoulos 1.541
9 Xuan Cuong Ma 2.052
10 Pedro Piedrabuena 2.052
11 Jae Ho Cho 1.756
12 Jung Han Heo 1.733
13 Roland Forthomme 1.666
14 Myung Woo Cho 1.659
15 Choong Bok Lee 1.473
16 Javier Teran 1.294
17 Dinh Nai Ngo 1.894
18 Sung-Won Choi 1.842
19 Eddy Merckx 1.764
20 Frédéric Caudron 1.727.

The new world ranking:

1 Torbjörn Blomdahl 414
2 Frédéric Caudron 412
3 Dick Jaspers 367
4 Eddy Merck 335
5 Dani Sánchez 283
6 Marco Zanetti 278
7 Nikos Polychronopoulos 254
8 Sameh Sidhom 237
9 Murat Naci Coklu 236
10 Jérémy Bury 214
11 Jae Ho Cho 198
12 Tayfun Tasdemir 196

13 Dong Koong Kang 193
14 Roland Forthomme 190
15 Quyet Chien Tran 190
16 Jung Han Heo 175
17 Pedro Piedrabuena 173
18 Haeng Jik Kim 173
19 Lütfi Cenet 143
20 Sung-Won Choi 137

The ranking of the World Cup cycle

1 Frédéric Caudron 246
2 Dick Jaspers 232
3 Nikos Polychronopoulos 168
4 Eddy Merckx 166
5 Jérémy Bury 160
6 Torbjörn Blomdahl 150
7 Marco Zanetti 146
8 Murat Naci Coklu 128
9 Dani Sánchez 124
10 Jae Ho Cho 112.

Semih Sayginer during his magic show at the end of the World Cup

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