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Spaniard Paquito Navarro has been pulling his weight for Tigers, playing a second marathon encounter in the World Padel League. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Spanish professional Paquito Navarro doesn’t believe in giving up easily. The former world No 1’s never-say-die spirit saw him go through a nail-biting encounter against Jaguars’ Sanyo Gutierrez and Momo Gonzalez, winning the crucial set for Tigers in the tie-break during the second day of the World Padel League in Dubai on Friday.

When Navarro took up padel at the age of 5, while many doubted his success in the sport, many even questioned the existence of the sport. Still he showed the conviction to play padel, which is now the most popular sport in Spain.

Welcome relief

It is with the same conviction that the 34-year-old, partnering Fedrico Chingotto, wore down the Jaguars duo led by his former playing partner Gutierrez. It should have come as a welcome relief for Navarro/Chingotto, who lost a narrow tie-breaker against Panthers’ Javier Garrido/Arturo Coello in the last set on the opening day.

“It is an amazing experience for us in the World Padel League. It’s a new concept of dealing with girls and boys together, it is very interesting concept. Yesterday, we didn’t get the good start that we wanted, but our aim is to give out best to win more games. It was an excellent experience,” Navarro told Gulf News. Down 3-5 in the fourth set, Navarro/Chingotto clawed their way back into the game, levelling at 6-6 and winning the tie-break 7-3.

Tigers' stars Pacquito Navarro and Marta Ortega talk about their experience at the World Padel League,

After losing the opener 4-0 on Thursday, Tigers came back stronger right from the start to move to a 2-0 lead before third-ranked Gemma Triay/Alejandra Salazar came to the rescue, winning the third set 6-2 against Victoria Iglesias and Delfi Brea. The Triay/Salazar duo are in stunning form as they also defeated the world No 1 Paula Josemaria and Ariana Sanchez of Cheetahs on the opening day.

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Winning run

Marta Ortega and Federico Chingotto won the first set, racing to a 6-4 win over Carolina Navarro and Sanyo Gutierrez to give Tigers a 1-0 lead, while Salem Alhouli and Juan Tello extended Tigers’ winning run by easing to a 6-4 win in the second set. Alhouli/Tello defeated Jaguars’ Abdullah Al Abdullah and Franco Stupaczuk to take a 2-0 lead.

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Salem Alhouli and Juan Tello extended Tigers' winning run against Jaguars. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Big leap

Navarro feels in another 10-20 years padel will be the most popular sport in the world.

“The growth is unbelievable. I remember when I was four or five years, I told my friends that I going to play padel tournament in Malaga. They were surprised to hear it. But it’s incredible how the sport has grown in Spain, now everyone is playing padel. Similarly, It is in the early stages in Europe, America and Asia, I expect, maybe in 10-20 years, it will be really be big.”