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Gemma Triay and Alejandra Salzar of Jaguars celebrating a point against against Lucia Sainz and Bea Gonzalez of Panthers on Saturday. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: For Alejandra Salazar it is all about grit and glory as the Spaniard braved through pain to give the crucial victory for her team, which was instrumental in Jaguars becoming the first of the four teams to book a place in the inaugural World Padel League final.

The world’s third-ranked duo, Salazar and Gemma Triay dominated the fellow Spaniards Bea Gonzalez and Lucia Sainz to take Jaguars past Panthers and bring them closer to the spot in final. But right though the set, 37-year-old Salazar didn’t show any discomfort, fully focused on completing the task, winning the women’s doubles. They did that with ease, winning 6-2 and taking Jaguars 2-1 up in the match.

Special victory

Salazar and Triay, the former world No 1, have won many battles together, but this one must have been special as it comes in a team event, held for the first time.

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Gemma Triay and Alejandra Salzar gave the crucial set, winning the third set for Jaguars against Panthers. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“We have been playing together for the past two and half years and may be today will be my last set for some weeks. So I entered the court to enjoy and be aggressive,” said Salazar, who is nursing an elbow injury, At that point the team still had not qualified to the final.

“I was in a little bit of pain and rested for some days. Today, I felt a bit better, still I need a surgery next week and will be back soon,” added the 52-time title winner.

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Gruelling schedule

Madrid-born Salazar will have to play at least one more set on Sunday, when she plays the final against Panthers. Salazar and Triay have won three tournaments from nine finals this year so far, La Rioja, Chile and Paraguay, but crashed out of the quarter-finals in Marbella Master, ending a run of semi-final appearances in 2023.

Salazar, who is second behind Argentine great Fernando Belasteguin in number of titles won, blamed gruelling schedule for her injury.

Difficult battle

“It’s been many weeks of playing and suffering, without being able to perform or enjoy the way I would like, carrying an injury in my elbow that has worsened this year due to the overload and the lack of rest with this busy schedule,” she announced on social media.

After winning the difficult battle, Triay was equally elated to get the points. “I am very happy we have played really a good set. Today was difficult battle and we enjoyed the match,” she said.

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Sanyo Gutierrez and Momo Gonzalez ensured that Jaguars completed their league on a high note with a win. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Momo Gonzalez and Sanyo Guiterrez extended Jaguars’ winning streak by defeating Arturo Coello and Alex Ruiz 6-4 to seal their place in the final of the inaugural edition.

Trading serves

“We have made a great work in this kind of competition, to work as a group and enjoy a lot. We have been playing together for the last three months, and struck a good combination in the past few weeks. We are getting better with these kind of matches,” Sanyo said after the match. The duo fought tooth and nail, despite qualifying for final, in a match that saw both teams trading their serves.

World No 1 ranked duo Ariana Sanchez and Paula Josemaria won their women's doubles set, but it went in vain. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

However, it was a different feeling for the current world No 1 ranked duo Ariana Sanchez and Paula Josemaria, who despite knowing that their team, Cheetahs, didn’t have the chance to qualify for final after losing their opening clash to Tigers, which means they will not be able to overhaul Panthers’ total game score.

Still the world No 1 pairing didn’t give in and staved off a fighting challenge to win 6-4.

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Mike Yonguas and Fernando Belasteguin sealed a 6-3 win but still Cheetahs' fell short of the qualification mark by two games. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Lots of fun

“We played a good match we are happy to win more points for our team,” Josemaria said after the match. “It was good week and we had lots of fun. We are happy to be part of the World Padel League.”

Miguel Yanguas and Fernando Belasteguin also won the final contest against Tigers’ Paquito Navarro and Federico Chingotto but still fell agonisingly short by two games behind Panthers in the standings for the final qualifying spot to Sunday’s title round.

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Salem Alhouli and Juan Tello playing against Cheetahs. An untimely injury to Alhouli brought the match to a premature end. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Good start

Tigers had a good start when Delfi Brea and Federico Chingotto won their opening set against Cheetahs’ Virginia Riera and Miguel Yanguas 6-4, but an untimely injury to UAE’s Salem Alhouli, playing with Juan Tello, during Tigers’ match forced the doctors to concede the match to Abdullah Ahli and Pablo Lima.

In the final standings, Jaguars topped with 63 games, followed by Panthers 59, Cheetahs 57 and Tigers 49. Both Jaguars and Panthers have advanced to the Sunday’s final.