Rio de Janeiro, May 17 2017 - Austrian Olympians Robin Seidl and Alexander Huber made a successful return to this Brazilian coastal city here Wednesday as the ninth-place finishers at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games posted qualifying wins with different partners to advance to Thursday’s Main Draw at the FIVB World Tour event.
With the US$300,000 open being played at the tennis stadium at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca, eight teams from seven countries won qualifying matches Wednesday led by Seidl/Tobias Winter and Huber/Julian Hörl as the Austrian pairs posted seed-break-through wins over tandems from Germany and Switzerland, respectively.
Other qualifiers Wednesday for Thursday’s opening “money” rounds were second-seeded Maciej Rudol/Jakub Szalankiewicz of Poland, third-seeded Mathias Berntsen/Christian Sorum of Norway, fourth-seeded Esteban Grimalt/Marco Grimalt of Chile, eighth-seeded Maarten van Garderen/Christiaan Varenhorst of The Netherlands, 12th-seeded Sean Faiga/Ariel Hilman of Israel and 16th-seeded Oscar Brandao/Hevaldo Moreira of Brazil.
Like the Austrians, the Grimalts and Varenhorst are also Rio 2016 Olympians as the Chilean cousins played in the same Copacabana pool with their Dutch rival. Varenhorst and Reinder Nummerdor advanced to the Rio Olympic quarter-finals while the Grimalts placed 19th after qualifying for the Summer Games via South American Continental Cup.
Playing at the same time on side-by-side courts Horl and Huber ousted sixth-seeded Nico Beeler/Marco Krattiger of Switzerland 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) in 32 minutes while Seidl and Winter scored a 2-0 (21-18 21-15) win in 34 minutes over seventh-seeded Armin Dollinger and Jonathan Erdmann of Germany.
While Horl and Huber are playing in their first FIVB World Tour event this season Seidl and Winter are competing together on the 2017 international tour for the fourth-time. In the season-opening event in the United States in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Seidl and Winter also defeated Dollinger and Erdmann in two sets during qualification.
Also posting seed-break-through wins Wednesday were the teams from Israel and host Brazil. After Oscar and Hevaldo eliminated top-seeded Christopher McHugh and Damien Schumann of Australia 2-0 (21-19, 21-17) in 32 minutes, Faiga and Hilman prevented a third qualifying team from Austria as the Israel duo ousted Christoph Dressler and Thomas Kunert 2-0 (21-13, 21-19) in 34 minutes.
With women’s competition also being staged at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca, the Main Draw for both genders will begin Thursday with “modified” pool play. Elimination rounds will highlight Friday and Saturday’s schedule with the medal matches being played Sunday. The winning teams in each gender’s competition with win the gold medals and the $20,000 first-place prizes.
Following the Rio Open, the next stop on the FIVB World Tour will be May 31-June 4 in Moscow for a three-star event in the Russian capital. 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.