Brasília, Brazil, April 19, 2011 - Surviving three sun-soaked rounds of Qualification Tournament matches for 44 teams, tandems from Brazil, Chile, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, United States and Venezuela all advanced to the final field for the 32-team main draw which starts Wednesday as the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour continues at the Brasília Open in the capital of Brazil.
With 36 matches played on Tuesday, host Brazil advanced two teams as all eight teams won either two or three matches to move onto the next phase in the tournament.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2011, the international beach volleyball circuit is starting with the US$380,000 Brasília Open for the third consecutive season. Competition will continue through Saturday on The Esplanada dos Ministérios in Quadrante 1.
The capital city of the South American country has welcomed nearly 140 men and women’s teams from 35 countries. This event is the 258th men’s and 218th women’s competition in the history of the FIVB Swatch World Tour.
Moving into the Wednesday’s first day of Main Draw competition from Tuesday’s men’s Qualification Tournament are Brazil’s Benjamin Insfran/Bruno Oscar Schmidt (top-seeded qualification team) and Felipe Rodrigues/Franco Neto (37th), along with Esteban Grimalt/Marco Grimalt, Chile (42nd), Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai, Italy (11th), Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen, Netherlands (30th), Hannes Brinkborg/Stefan Gunnarsson, Sweden (9th), Brad Keenan/Casey Patterson, United States (4th) and Igor Hernandez/Jesus Villafane, Venezuela (19th).
Combined with pre-seeded teams, Brazil will now have six teams in the Men’s Main Draw while the United States will have five, the Netherlands three, Italy two and one each for Chile, Sweden and Venezuela.
Benjamin/Bruno, Nicolai/Lupo, Keenan/Patterson and Hernandez/Villafane all had first round byes and advanced with two Qualification victories while Neto/Rodrigues, the Grimmalt brothers, Brouwer/Meeuwsen and Brinkborg/Gunnarsson each had to win three matches to earn their Main Draw berths.
In a triple seed break-through Franco/Rodrigues battled to victories in three sets each over Turkey’s 28th-seeded Murat Giginoglu/Hakan Gogtepe, 21-13, 15-21, 15-13 in 48 minutes, Poland’s Michal Kadziola/Jakub Szalankiewicz (5th) 21-15, 17-21 and 12-15 in 53 minutes and ended their day on center court by coming from behind to defeat Norway’s Oivind Hordvik/Iver Horem (12th), 14-21, 21-14 and 15-10 in 47 minutes.
“All day long reminded me of the old times on the FIVB Swatch World Tour,” said the popular Franco, 44, a veteran of 22 seasons with 16 career FIVB gold medals. “It is wonderful to play with the local fans cheering for us. To find all this atmosphere brings me the kind of energy that makes me feel like a youth on the court.”
Brazil has staged a FIVB Swatch World Tour event every year since the start of the international series for men in 1987 and women in 1992. This is the 33rd men’s event and 28th women’s tournament on the FIVB Swatch World Tour held in Brazil. This is also the 13th time Brazil has been the site of a season-opening event on the international circuit.
Main Draw rounds continue Wednesday for the women and start for the men in the US$380,000 event as teams march into the final days seeking the US$30,000 first-place prize for each gender. The medal matches will be held Friday for women and Saturday. Silver medal teams will split US$21,000 and the bronze US$15,000.
With the Brazilian capital celebrating its 51st anniversary this week, crowds exceeding 1-million are expected to attend various holiday activities on the Esplanada dos Ministérios in Brasília, especially during the Thursday’s anniversary celebrations which feature the FIVB Swatch World Tour event.