Beijing, China, June 9, 2011 - Beijing Olympic champions Todd Rogers and Philip Dalhausser of the United States had an unlucky day on Thursday as they dropped two consecutive round robin matches in the men’s Main Draw of the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour Beijing Grand Slam.
China's Penggen Wu celebrates after making the men's top 16 with Linyin Xu on the back of a last round come-from-behind victory over American duo Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal.
Thanks to an opening victory on Wednesday, they still made it to the 24-team knockout stage as by finishing third in Group J.
With the conclusion of round robin play, second seeds Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego of Brazil and seven other teams moved into top 16 by winning respective groups.
Rogers/Dalhausser, who had their nine-tournament winning streak connecting 2010 and 2011 snapped by Alison/Emanuel in the final of the Prague Open two weeks ago, lost to the 17th seeded Martin Spinnangr and Tarjei Skarlund of Norway 14-21, 21-17 and 16-14 before going down to the 16th seeded Dutch men Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil 27-25, 21-17.
“We are still in the tournament, tomorrow is a new day,” Dalhausser said. “I don’t know. I just don’t play well. I just don’t feel I’m in the rhythm right now and it’s really affecting my game.”
Rogers/Dalhausser will need to win three in a row on Friday to make Saturday morning’s semifinals. “We’ll see what happens.”
Nummerfor/Schuil, who finished top of Group J with three successive wins, secured their place in top 16.
“We feel good, because we had a really difficult start of the season, we couldn’t find our rhythm,” Nummerdor said. “This tournament we are playing well finally. To beat them is really nice, but for us it’s more important to play well and now we finally play well and we hope to continue like this. If we play like this, we can come far.”
Alison/Rego added a pair of wins to their opening victory on Wednesday to clinch the first place in Pool K and the fourth seeds Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann and fifth seeds Eric Koreng and David Klemperer from Germany also finished top of respective round robin pool.
Poland’s 24th seeds Mariusz Prudel and Grzegorz Fijalek was the biggest surprise of the tournament as they upset Brazil’s eighth seeds Benjamin Insfran and Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Chinese ninth seeds Gao Peng and Cheng Chen to claim Pool Q. The 19th seeds of Switzerland Jefferson Bellaguarda and Patrick Heuscher also emerged as shock Pool winners. Taking advantage of Brazilian duo Ricardo Alex Costa Santos and Marcio Henrique Barroso Araujo’s (3) upset loss to Latvia’s Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins (14), Bellaguarda/Heuscher finished top of Pool L on a 2-1 win-loss record and better points ratio.
The other tandems that have earned a bye in the first round of the knockout stage are Spain’s 10th seeds Pablo Herrera Allepuz and Adrian Gavira Collado and Chinese medal hopeful Wu Penggen and Xu Linyin, who came from one set down to beat the 11th seeds Jacob Gibb and Sean Rosenthal of the United States in the third round.
“It’s a real tough match,” Xu said. “We were at a very dangerous position, but we never gave up. Fortunately we took the opportunity to come back and get the win.”
After the conclusion of the round robin play on Thursday, the top three finishers from each of the eight groups stay in contention with the second and third place teams participating in the first round of do-or-die matches Friday morning.
The $600,000 Beijing Grand Slam is the first FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour Grand Slam of the year with the Chinese capital welcoming back international beach volleyball for the first time since the 2008 Olympic Games.
The inaugural Beijing Grand Slam is the third of 12 double-gender events on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, which also includes three single-gender events for women, two single-gender events for men and a special 24-team Olympic test event in London August 9 to 14.