Rome, Italy, June 15, 2012 – Matthew Fuerbringer and Nicholas Lucena made it through to the second knockout round of the smart Grand Slam, Rome with a win over 2009 FIVB world champions Jonas Reckermann and Julius Brink.
Fuerbringer (pictured) and Lucena were able to celebrate a win over Jonas Reckermann and Julius Brink at the smart Grand Slam, Rome
The USA pair made a strong start in the first set, before the Germans fought back to win the second. In the third though Fuerbringer and Lucena rediscovered their rhythm to dominate and finish with a 21-15, 19-21, 15-9 victory.
“Halfway into the match we had to say to ourselves, ‘if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best,’ ” Fuerbringer said.
“Today we were fortunate enough to come out and makes some plays and they made us beat them. I think we only gave them one point in the third set.”
For Reckermann and Brink this was only their third tournament together in 2012 after the European Championships and the Moscow Grand Slam.
They have had their preparations disrupted by a shoulder injury to Reckermann, but showed that they remain a dangerous team to meet.
“I think they are the most consistent team in the world,” Fuerbringer said. “It seems like they are in the final four every weekend.
“They work so hard, compete in every game and have a great strategy and that is what makes them so hard to beat.”
Despite Reckermann and Brinks’ loss, Kay Matysik and Jonathan Erdmann ensured that there would be one German team progressing to the second knockout round after they beat Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil in straight sets.
They dominated at the net against their more experienced opponents to finish with a 21-17, 21-17 victory.
“We love to play Nummerdor and Schuil because they are good defenders,” Matysik said, “but we are a little bit taller and they couldn’t clear our hits until the end. We had a little bit more power than them and are happy to win in the end.”
The victory continues Matysik and Erdmann’s strong run of form against their north-European rivals, which they used to help them stay focused throughout the match.
“They do have experience, but in the last year we have played them three times and always won, so I think we were more confident and we knew that if we got in a run, they could not stop us.”
Reigning world champions Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti won their pool to go straight to the second knockout stage.
There they will meet fellow Brazilians Marcio Araujo and Pedro Salgado, who beat Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel to progress.
The smart Grand Slam, Rome is the seventh tournament on the men’s FIVB SWATCH World Tour, which features 12 events and culminates with the Agadir Open in Morocco in October.
Rome is the last tournament in which world ranking points count towards qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games and the winning team will leave with a prize of $43,000. Both the women’s and men’s finals take place on Sunday, June 17.