Brasília, Brazil, April 18, 2012—Surviving three sun-soaked rounds of qualification tournament matches Wednesday for 35 teams, tandems from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Russia, Spain and the United States all advanced to the final field for the men’s 32-team main draw which starts Thursday as the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour continues at the US$380,000 Brasília Open in the capital of Brazil. With 27 matches played Wednesday, Austria advanced two teams as all eight teams won either two or three matches to move forward in the tournament.
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first FIVB-sanctioned event (Rio de Janeiro in 1987), the international beach volleyball circuit began for the fourth consecutive season with the US$380,000 Brasília Open will be held through Sunday on The Esplanada dos Ministérios in Quadrante 1 as the Brazilian capital is celebrating its 52nd anniversary on Saturday. The tournament is the first of nine double-gender events on the 2012 schedule.
Moving into Thursday’s first day of men’s main draw competition, from Wednesday’s qualifier are Australia’s William Mercer/Joshua Slack (sixth-seeded qualification team), Austria’s Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl (Q7), Austria’s Thomas Kunert/Lorenz Petutschnig (Q29), Brazil’s Vitor Felipe/Moises Santos (Q16), Canada’s Christian Redmann/Ben Saxton (Q3), Russia’s Alexander Likholetov/Serguei Prokopiev (Q5), Spain’s Incenio Lario/Raul Mesa (2Q) and USA’s Bradley Keenan/John Mayer (Q9).
Combined with four pre-seeded teams, Brazil will now have five teams in the men’s main draw while the United States will have four, Austria, Spain will have two teams and one each for Australia, Canada and Russia.
Brazil’s Felipe/Santos and USA’s Keenan/Mayer both advanced after having first had to win a country quota match on Tuesday to just advance into the qualifier. On Wednesday, Felipe/Santos defeated Japan and Italy while Keenan/Mayer eliminated teams from Canada and Brazil,
Brazil’s Felipe/Santos opened the day with a two-set win over Japan’s Shinpei Aoki/Keisuke Imai, 21-12, 21-17 in 36 minutes and advanced with an upset two-set over Italy’s Matteo and Paolo Ingrosso, the top-seeded team in the qualifier, 22-20, 21-18 in 47 minutes.
"Being able to advance to the main draw in my first FIVB SWATCH World Tour event is just unbelievable,” said a very happy Felipe, the third-youngest men’s player in this tournament (21 years, one month and eight days) who has already in his career earned two silver medals and a bronze in the FIVB SWATCH Junior World Championships for players under 21 years old. “I didn’t expect these good results to come so fast. When I arrived in Brasilia I was impressed with the size of the arena and with the music. This is fantastic. I think we used some of this excitement to move us forward in the sand. Now, I need to change my airplane ticket, because I arranged it for tomorrow (Thursday) thinking that it wouldn’t go so well."
USA’s Keenan/Mayer also survived the country quota playoffs Tuesday and Wednesday’s two matches also earn their first main draw spot as a team on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour. In the qualifier, Keenan/Mayer beat Canada’s Chaim Schalk/Matt Zbszewski, 21-16, 21-17 in 36 minutes and then were extended to three sets before eventually getting by Brazil’s Roberto Pitta/Francisco Rodriguez, 21-17, 18-21 and 15-7 in 49 minutes.
“I’m very happy and excited with these results,” Keenan said at the end of the day. “This is the first time in a world tour’s event as a team and we got to the main draw after two tough games in the quail and that was after having to go through another hard country quota match on Tuesday. This is my fourth year and Brazil but for my partner it is his first time and the sun sometimes hits really hard. But now we will focus on the next matches and enjoy the moment, even if it is just for the moment.”
Brazil has staged a FIVB SWATCH World Tour event every year since the start of the international series for men in 1989 and women in 1992. This will be the 34th men’s event and 29th women’s tournament on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour held in Brazil. It is also the 14th time that the FIVB SWATCH World Tour will have its season-opening event in Brazil. This is also the fourth consecutive year the tour has come to Brasília.
The capital city of the South American country has welcomed 135 men and women’s teams from 35 countries. This event is the 272nd men’s and 233rd women’s competition in the history of the FIVB SWATCH World Tour.
The women’s main draw tournament continues Thursday as well. The gold medal teams in each gender in the Brasília Open will each split $30,000, the silver $21,000, the bronze $15,000 and fourth place $11,200. The internationally-televised medal matches for women will be held Friday and for men on Sunday.
With the season-opening event on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour calendar in Brazil, the road to the 2012 London Olympic Games has resumed as 16 of the 24 teams in each gender will be determined through year-long Olympic rankings through the FIVB SWATCH World Tour. This tournament is the first of nine double-gender events on the 2012 world tour schedule. Beach Volleyball at the London Olympic Games will run from July 28 to August 9.