Fort Lauderdale, USA, February 9, 2017 – After two days of intense competition and 56 matches, 16 men’s teams from nine countries still stand at the $600,000 Fort Lauderdale Major, the 2017 international beach volleyball season opener.
The tournament continues on Friday with the Round of 16 and the quarterfinals scheduled for the day. The men’s contest will come to an end on Saturday, one day before the women’s gold medal match at the Fort Lauderdale Beach Park.
The elimination round brought back a taste of Rio 2016 Olympic Games, as six out of the ten Olympic teams that made it out of the pools stage were drawn in the same bracket. One of them was Germany’s Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen, who advanced to the Round of 16 after defeating Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins 2-0 (21-19, 21-19).
Their match was interrupted at 18-18 in the second set, but the Germans came back strong and secured their victory. They will now face the No. 1 seeds, USA’s Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, who won Pool A with three straight wins.
“It was our best game in the tournament. You never know what’s going to happen after a break like that, but we did pretty well and managed to end the match quickly and I’m happy with that,” said Fluggen. “It was a tough draw for us. Nick and Phil won’t be any easier and it will be fun playing them, probably on center court. It will be a good game.”
In the same bracket are Brazilian Olympic and world champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt, who dropped one match on Wednesday but bounced back and made it to the Round of 16 with a tough 2-1 (19-21, 21-15, 18-16) over Chilean cousins Marco and Esteban Grimalt. The South Americans, who won the FIVB World Tour Finals in the same location in 2015, will now play against Poland’s Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak.
Brazilian Bruno and Alison bounced back and defeated the Chilean Grimalt cousins
If the Brazilian advance, they can play Dalhausser and Lucena at the quarterfinals, exactly the same stage where the teams met seven months ago in Rio. On that occasion, the Brazilians won 2-1 three days before winning the gold medal. However, last weekend the Americans defeated Alison and Bruno in an exhibition match disputed at the Rio Olympic Tennis Center named “Gigantes da Praia”, or “Giants of the Beach”.
Other interesting matches that could happen in the quarterfinals would put long-time Americans partners Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson face to face for the first time since they split late last year. Gibb, who is now playing with Taylor Crabb, will meet Canada’s Sam Pedlow/Sam Schachter in the Round of 2016, while Patterson and new partner Theo Brunner match up with Brazil’s Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola. If both teams advance, they will play against each other for a spot in the semifinals.
Italian stars and Rio silver medallists Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai are also alive, as they dominated Pool G winning their three matches so far. The Europeans will now clash with Canada’s Grant O’Gorman/Michael Plantinga, who beat Brazilian Pedro Solberg/Guto Carvalhaes in straight sets 2-0 (21-14, 21-19). In the same bracket are Russia's Nikita Liamin/Viacheslav Krasilnikov and USA's John Hyden/Ryan Doherty.
Spain's Adrián Gavira serves in the center court
In the other bracket, Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek/Michal Bryl will play against Spain’s Pablo Herrera/Adrián Gavira in the Round of 16, while Brazil’s Álvaro Filho/Saymon Barbosa faces Switzerland’s Marco Krattiger/Nico Beeler. The Swiss pair started their campaign in the qualification tournament and posted a 2-0 (22-20, 21-18) win over Canada’s Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk in the first elimination round.
“After the rain the sand was harder and that helped us a lot as we came from indoor and are more used to a power game. Our goal here was to qualify to the main draw so there was no more pressure on us since we made it. We are going full power to every match and whatever happens will be a good result for us,” commented the 22-year-old Krattiger.