Shanghai, China, May 4, 2012 – Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb showed that they are slowly finding their best form at the Shanghai Grand Slam presented by Jinshan Xinchen, by beating Tarjei Skarlund and Martin Spinnangr to reach the round of 16.
The US 14th seeds came back from losing the first set to defeat the 18th seeded Norwegians 18-21, 21-18, 15-12.
Earlier in the day they won another three set epic in their final pool match against the third seeds from the Netherlands Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil, 19-21, 24-22, 15-10.
“All the teams out here are tough,” Rosenthal said. “But we’re into the ninth position and have the chance to move further on. It was a hell of a job by my partner to hang in there. He was getting up and getting to the line and played really well.”
Both teams pushed each other hard throughout the match and even when Rosenthal and Gibb went 14-10 ahead in the final set, Skarlund and Spinnangr twice fought back to cancel out two match points before conceding the tiebreak.
“We just needed to pass the ball and side out,” Rosenthal continued. “At 14-10 you’re still pretty good, but anything can happen out there.”
Twelve months ago the duo were on the podium with the silver medal round their necks after they had lost the final to their compatriots Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser.
However, despite starting to find their best form, they say that they will have to be at their best to record a similar result in 2012.
“All the other teams are good out here,” Rosenthal said. “One day you can beat anybody and one day you can lose to anybody. Everybody is good, you just come out and try and play your game.
“We’re in a good position. We’re still alive and good moving forward.”
One team that didn’t need the round of 24 to reach the last 16 was Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira. The Spaniards continued their impressive opening to 2012 by topping their pool after they won all three of their matches.
So far in 2012 the seventh seeds have finished fourth at the Brasilia Open and third in the Silesia Open in Myslowice, Poland. They ensured that they would go straight to the round of 16 by beating Chinese wildcards Cheng Chen and Wuqin Lin 21-12, 21-17.
Three matches, three wins
“We feel good,” Gavira said. “Three matches, three wins. Now we can rest and think about Saturday's match. Now we are free and can watch the other teams and that is important, very important.”
Joining them directly in the round of 16 were defending gold medallists and Olympic champions Rogers and Dalhausser and 2011 world champions Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego. Both teams topped their pools with three wins from three.
The 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour is scheduled over a seven month period and features 12 tournaments for both men and women. For the men the season started in April in Brazil and ends in October in Morocco.
The $600,000 Shanghai Grand Slam is the second of nine double gender events and the winning pair share a $43,500 purse.
It is the ninth straight year in which Shanghai has hosted an FIVB SWATCH World Tour event and the men’s final takes place on 6 May.
Following the completion of the Shanghai Grand Slam the World Tour moves onto to China’s capital for the Beijing Grand Slam from May 8-13.