Fort Lauderdale, USA, February 10, 2017 – Olympic champions from beach volleyball powerhouses Brazil and the United States are set to clash in the quarterfinals of the $600,000 Fort Lauderdale Major, the 2017 international season opener, as Brazilian Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt and Americans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena got past the Round of 16 this Friday afternoon.
Alison and Bruno, who are fresh from winning gold in Rio last year, saw elimination close but bounced back to beat Poland’s Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak 2-1 (16-21, 21-17, 15-13) in one of the side courts at the Fort Lauderdale Beach Park. The Brazilians are on their way to win back-to-back tournaments in Florida as they were crowned at the same location in the 2015 FIVB World Tour Finals.
“The Polish are playing very well and they deserve our compliments,” said Alison. “It is very early in the season, we just started training four weeks ago and we’re not in our best shapes, but the fans have been so supportive with us here that we couldn’t stop fighting. We are ready for a big match against Phil and Nick in the centre court as it was two years ago in the final."
Beijing 2008 Olympic champion Dalhausser and his partner Lucena are still undefeated in the tournament as the Americans posted their fourth straight win in the Round of 16 against Germany’s Markus Bockermann and Lars Fluggen (21-13, 21-10).
“I think that was our best match of the tournaments,” said the 37-year-old Florida native Lucena.
The Brazilians and the Americans will meet exactly at the same stage they did seven months ago in Rio Olympic Games. In the occasion, the South Americans won 2-1 and managed to get their third victory against the rivals in five meetings on official tournaments. However, last weekend Dalhausser and Lucena defeated Alison and Bruno in an exhibition match disputed at the Rio Olympic Tennis Center named “Gigantes da Praia”, or “Giants of the Beach”.
Another quarterfinal matchup will also put teams from the two countries face to face, with USA’s Jake Gibb/Taylor Crabb going up against Brazil’s Evandro Gonçalves/Andre Loyola. The Americans cruised past Canada’s Sam Pedlow/Sam Schachter 2-0 (21-18, 21-18) while the Brazilians knocked off USA’s Theo Brunner/Casey Jennings with an identical two-set win 2-0 (21-18, 21-18). Both teams are competing in their first international event.
Brazil's Alvaro Filho serves against the Switzerland's team
Italian Rio 2016 silver medallists Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai struggled, but defeated Canada's Michael Plantinga/Grant O’Gorman 2-1 (21-18, 13-21, 15-5) in the Round of 16. In the quarterfinals, they will face USA’s John Hyden/Ryan Doherty, who beat Russia’s Nikita Liamin/Viacheslav Krasilnikov also in three sets 2-1 (23-25, 21-17, 15-9).
Also advancing to the quarterfinals are Brazil’s Alvaro Filho/Saymon Barbosa and Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek/Michal Bryl. The Brazilian qualifiers defeated Switzerland’s Nico Beeler/Marco Krattiger in straight sets 2-0 (21-12, 21-19) while the Polish needed three sets 2-1 (25-23, 20-22, 15-12) to overcome Spain’s Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira.
The quarterfinals will happen Friday afternoon while the semifinals, bronze and gold medal matches will close the men’s schedule in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday.