Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 12, 2017 - While most of the elite players are just starting their season, competitors from Beach Volleyball power Brazil are in the middle of their campaign heading into next week's US$300,000 Rio Open.
The "four-star" FIVB World Tour event begins Wednesday with qualifying for both men and women. The Main Draws for both genders start Thursday with "modified" pool play followed by elimination rounds Friday and Saturday and the medal matches Sunday at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca.
In staging the country's 18th men's and 11th women's FIVB World Tour event in Rio de Janeiro, including 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.
Headlining Brazil's entries in the Rio Open will be men's Olympic gold medal winners Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt 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 Evandro Gonçalves and Pedro Salgado in the men's Main Draw and the women's pair of Larissa França/Talita Antunes. 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 semi-finals to eventual gold medal winners Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany.
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 next week’s event. Competing in the men's qualifier will be Vitor Felipe/Fernando Magalhães and Oscar Brandão/Hevaldo Moreira. In the women's qualifier are Josemari Alves/Liliane Maestrini, Juliana Felisberta/Carolina Salgado and Maria Antonelli/Carolina Horta.
2016-2017 BRAZILIAN DOMESTIC TOUR
The 2016-2017 Brazilians domestic tour featured 10 stops in Campo Grande (September 23-25), Brasília (October 14-16) Uberlândia (October 28-30), Curitiba (November 18-20), São José (December 9-11), João Pessoa (January 27-29), Maceio (February 17-19), Aracaju (March 17-19), Vitória (April 7-9) and the Super Praia at Niteroi (RJ).
Men's Brazilian domestic winners this season entered in the Rio Open are Alison/Bruno (Uberlândia, São José and the Super Praia at Niteroi), Alvaro/Saymon (Brasília, Curitiba, Maceio) and Guto/Pedro (Aracaju and Vitória). Alvaro and Saymon were the only men's team to reach the podium in all 10 events as the pair also finished second five times and third twice. Alison and Bruno had six podiums with two seconds and a third. Guto and Pedro had three podiums (one second) with Evandro/Andre and Oscar/Hervaldo two medals each (seconds and thirds).
Talita and Larissa, who had eight domestic podium placements this season, captured six Brazilian tour stops (Campo Grande, Brasília, Uberlândia, Maceio, Aracaju and Vitória). Agatha and Duda topped the podiums in João Pessoa and at the Super Praia in Niteroi with title match setbacks to Talita and Larissa in Maceio and Aracaju). Juliana was victorious in two other women's events in Curitiba and São José with Taiana and Rebecca Silva, respectively.
Olympic silver medal winners Barbara Seixas (left) and Agatha Bednarczuk will be playing with new partners at the 2017 Rio Open.
2017 FIVB WORLD TOUR
Highlighting the 2017 international calendar for men and women Beach Volleyball players will be the $1-million FIVB World Championships July 28 through August 6 in Austria and the $800,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals 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 at The Hague.
With $5.335-million 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.
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.
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).