Saturday, April 1

Paula Josemaría keeps up with the favorites in a hellish calendar

Paula Josemaría and Ariana Sánchez celebrate a point in Toulouse. / WPT

World Padel Tour

La moralejana and Ariana Sánchez have lifted three trophies and are 325 points away from the number 1s in the 2022 Race ranking

Manuel Garcia

The equator of the World Padel Tour season with the most appointments in history and in its most international aspect is about to be fulfilled. That translates into a strenuous calendar full of trips that narrow the margins to a minimum. June appears in the official almanac monopolized by the bluish colors of the two open already disputed, that of France and that of Austria, and the red of the masters, already completed the event in Marbella and in the making the corresponding one in Valladolid, which cast to roll in their first qualifying rounds this Monday.

A week separates the next stop, Valencia, in early July. Although it will be after the short break in August when the maelstrom intensifies even more with 5 tournaments in the month of September.

The conclusion at this point is that, as expected, a bicephaly is imposed, a hand in hand between the current numbers 1, Alejandra Salazar and Gemma Triay, and the candidates to snatch the throne, Paula Josemaría and Ariana Sánchez. Only one of the nine titles that have been put into contention in this 2022 has not gone to the showcases of these two couples, who are starring in a fierce struggle with few guests. The only exception came in Denmark, an open in which Bea González and Marta Ortega emerged victorious in an unprecedented final against Mapi Sánchez Alayeto and Sofía Araújo, who replaced Majo, who was unable to participate due to a muscle injury.

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Salazar and Triay have been very faithful to their appointments with the finals, to the point that they have only missed two. They have won five of the final matches, falling in two of the seven they have played, both against their greatest rivals to revalidate their place in the Olympus of the WPT ranking. Paula and Ariana, meanwhile, have reached the same number of finals, kneeling in four of them, all against the Madrid and the Menorcan, who managed to snatch the victories in the Vigo and Vienna open. The other trophy of this course that appears in the honors of the Extremaduran and the player from Reus is that of the Master of Marbella, with which Josemaría has always maintained a special idyll since 2019, when together with Ana Catarina Nogueira he gave the bell eliminating the favorites and sneaking into their first semifinals in the WPT. They won the Andalusian tournament last year and repeated at the beginning of June, beating Vero Virsedo and Bárbara Las Heras.

The two outstanding duos have not been without potholes in their careers to date and have coincided almost in the same stretch. In the case of the Extremaduran and the Catalan, the problems in the adductor of the latter greatly conditioned two of their appearances, especially in Brussels, where they were dismounted at the first change in the round of 16 against Esther Carnicero and Lucía Martínez, a tandem that in normal circumstances should not have been a stumbling block of that caliber. The physical decline took its toll despite winning the first set. In Denmark, two weeks later, their performances improved somewhat, but they said goodbye early, falling in the quarterfinals against Victoria Iglesias and Aranzazu Osorio.

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Alejandra Salazar and Gemma Triay have also shown (few) signs of weakness. Bea González and Marta Ortega deprived them in Denmark of repeating the confrontation that has been recorded the most in the table, winning them in the semis. More notorious was the unexpected puncture in the round of 16 in Marbella, against the newly configured duo Marta Talaván-Sofía Araújo.

The leaders of the WPT ranking maintain distances from their pursuers with 16,725 points, by the 14,385 of Paula Josemaría and Ariana Sánchez, an advantage that is much smaller in the 2022 Race, where they repeat the positions, although only separated by 325 points.

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