Rio Olympic Park greets FIVB World Tour competitors

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 15, 2017 - The planet’s best beach volleyball players return to this Brazilian coastal city for the third straight season and the 18th time since the start of sanctioned competition in 1987 as the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca hosts a $300,000 four-star event.

The Rio Open officially begins Wednesday with qualifying for both men and women where eight pairs from each gender’s preliminary rounds will advance to Thursday’s opening modified pool play rounds. Elimination rounds will highlight Friday and Saturday schedule with the medal matches being played Sunday at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca.

Brazilian dominance
A total of 42 men’s and 37 women’s FIVB World Tour events have been held in Brazil with duos from the South American country topping the podium at 25 of the men’s tournaments and 23 of the women’s stages.  In Rio, Brazilian pairs have won seven of the 17 men’s gold medals and six of the 10 women’s title.

Pairs who are entered in the 2017 Rio Open that have won FIVB World Tour gold medals together in the "Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea" are the past two men’s title winners from competition on Copacabana - Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland (2016 Rio Grand Slam) and Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil (Rio 2016 Olympic Games).  Past women’s Rio gold medal winners in the 2017 Rio Open are Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca (2015 Rio Open) and Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst of Germany (Rio 2016 Olympic Games).

In staging the country's 18th men's and 11th women's FIVB World Tour event in Rio de Janeiro, including the 2003 FIVB World Championships and the 2016 Olympic Games, host Brazil has already placed four teams in each gender's Main Draw competition with two additional berths available for the "money" rounds available via the qualifiers.

Host country entries
The first match of the Rio Open will be played Tuesday with a Brazilian country quota contest between Juliana Felisberta/Carolina Salgado and Maria Antonelli/Carolina Horta.  The winning team will advance to Wednesday’s qualifier along with compatriots Josemari Alves/Liliane Maestrini.

Headlining Brazil's entries in the Rio Open will be men's Olympic gold medal winners Alison and Bruno, and women's silver medal winners at the Copacabana Summer Games Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas.  With Alison and Bruno still partners, Agatha will compete in the Rio Open with Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa while Barbara will be competing with Fernanda Alves.

Other Olympians competing for Brazil in the Rio Open will be Evandro Gonçalves and Pedro Salgado in the men's Main Draw and the women's pair of Talita/Larissa.  Evandro is now playing with Andre Loyola with Pedro teaming with Gustavo Carvalhaes.  Evandro and Pedro finished ninth in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games while Larissa and Talita were fourth after losing in the semifinals to Ludwig and Walkenhorst.

The pairs of Álvaro Filho/Saymon Barbosa and Elize Maia/Taiana Lima have also qualified for the men's and women's Main Draws, respectively, for this week’s event. Competing in the men's qualifier will be Vitor Felipe/Fernando Magalhães and Oscar Brandão/Hevaldo Moreira.

Rio 2016 Olympic men's podium returns
In addition to the duos of Alison/Bruno, Ludwig/Walkenhorst, and players Agatha and Barbara, the 2017 Rio Open will feature two other men’s teams that earned podium spots at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games - Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai of Italy and Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands.

Brouwer and Meeuwsen, who dropped a 2-1 (21-17, 21-23, 16-14) Olympic semi-final match to Alison and Bruno, rebounded by winning the bronze medal with a 2-0 (23-21, 22-20) win in 44 minutes over Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Konstantin Semenov of Russia. Krasilnikov is playing this week with Nikita Liamin, who finished fifth in the Rio Olympics with Dmitri Barsouk after being eliminated by Lupo and Nicolai.

After surviving three-set wins over Americans Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena and Brouwer/Meeuwsen in the two previous Olympic rounds, Alison and Bruno posted a two-set win over Lupo and Nicolai (21-19, 21-17) in the 44-minute gold medal match to conclude the beach volleyball competition at the Rio Summer Games. It was Alison/Bruno’s sixth win in nine FIVB matches with the Italians. The Brazilians also have won six of eight FIVB matches against Brouwer/Meeuwsen.

2017 FIVB World Tour

Highlighting the 2017 international calendar for men and women beach volleyball players will be the $1m FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Vienna 2027 from July 28 through August 6 in Austria and the $800,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals from August 23-27 in Hamburg, Germany.  

Alison and Bruno are the defending champions for both events after winning the 2015 world title in the Netherlands and the 2016 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals for the second-time in Toronto, Canada. While Ludwig and Walkenhorst are the reigning SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals gold medal winners, the 2017 FIVB World Championships will not have a defending champion as Agatha and Barbara captured the 2015 gold medal by defeating Fernanda and Taiana in The Hague finale.

With $5.34m in prize money, the 2017 FIVB World Tour ranking system will include 15 other events for men and 19 additional stops for women featuring three SWATCH Major Series stops per gender, four-star (three per gender), three-star (four for men, three for women), two-star (one for men, three for women) and one-star (four for men, seven for women) Open events along with additional pre-approved tournaments at the inter-continental, continental and national levels.

Early returns
With the SWATCH Major Series stop in Fort Lauderdale being the opening event on the 2017 FIVB World Tour calendar, five other events have been held in Iran (Kish Island), Australia (Shepparton and Sydney), Malaysia (Langkawi) and China (Xiamen).  The Kish Island (men) and Sydney (women) stops were single gender events.

The Fort Lauderdale Major podium - Evandro, Andre, Saymon, Alvaro, Lucena & Dalhausser

All the early-season gold medal winners have entered the 2017 Rio Open, including Americans Kim DiCello/Emily Stockman (Langkawi), Brazilians Saymon/Alvaro (Fort Lauderdale), Talita/Larissa (Fort Lauderdale) and Barbara/Fernanda (Xiamen), Australians Christopher McHugh/Damien Schumann (Shepparton), Canadians Julie Gordon/Camille Saxton (Shepparton and Sydney), Cubans Nivaldo Diaz/Sergio Gonzalez (Langkawi), Dutchmen Brouwer/Meeuwsen (Xiamen) and Russians Krasilnikov/Liamin (Kish Island).


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