Thirty five year old Londoner, Richard Kruse opened fencing’s new season by winning the Bonn Men’s Foil World Cup in Germany yesterday. Going into the event ranked second in the World he bypassed the qualification round into the knock-out stages and went on to defeat old adversary, Andrea Cassara of Italy in a tense final.
He eased through the early rounds, beating De Greef of Belgium 15-7, Frenchmen Chastenet 15-8 and Cadot 15-8, before facing the 2013 World Champion, American Miles Chamley-Watson. That was a gritty fight during which Chamley-Watson protested on a few occasions but Kruse won the match 15-11 to make the semi-finals.
There he met another French fencer, Enzo Lefort. In a fight which saw the whole length of the piste being used, Kruse was noticeably more offensive that we have seen him in recent times as he sought out the weaknesses in his mobile opponent. The British fencer led 8-6 at the first break but there was little sign of either fencer establishing full control of the fight. Kruse dominated the second period, mixing his impressive defence and blocking counter-attacks with some beautifully timed attacks with the blade. He went on to win 15-10.
In the other semi-final, two times European Champions and 2011 World Champion, Italy’s Andrea Cassara beating rising American star, Nick Itkin. So the final saw Kruse facing Cassara for the eighth time at a major tournament, leading their head-to-head 5-2. In the early stages, the Italian was the aggressor which successfully built him small lead. Kruse changed to a more offensive approach himself and closed the gap using fast and accurate attacks before eventually leading 9-5 at the break. These well timed attacks also gave Kruse the opportunity to mix up his game to surprise his opponent and make more use of his closing counter-attack. The Italian increased his attacking intensity after the break but Kruse was able to revert to his defensive approach and led 12-8 half way through the period. An increasingly frustrated Cassara continued to hunt down Kruse but the British fencer was stoic in his defence. Kruse finished the fight with a perfectly executed attack into preparation taking the first title of the season 15-11.
Commenting on his victory, Kruse said, “I’m very pleased to win the World Cup in Bonn. This was the only world cup I hadn’t medalled in to date so I’m pleased to have changed that. This pushes the tally up to 8 world cup victories, if I could make it to 10 then I will be able to retire happy!”
Speaking after the event, Kruse’s coach, Ziemek Wojciechowski said, “This is the eighth victory for Richard in World Cups and Grand Prix events. It is incredible to see Richard showing yet another dimension of his mastery in defence by using more then ever a variety of actions from the line.”
Full results available here.
Images: Augusto Bizzi.
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