Berlin, Germany, July 11, 2012 – Venezuela’s Igor Hernandez and Jesus Villafane recorded the biggest result of their career to defeat reigning Olympic champions Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser in the opening day of men’s pool play at the smart Grand Slam, Berlin on Wednesday.
Igor Hernandez (pictured) and Jesus Villafane recorded their best ever World Tour result with victory over Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers at the smart Grand Slam, Berlin
The pair have already made history this year by becoming the first Venezuelan team to qualify for an Olympic Games and they showed that they will be no pushovers in London by beating the USA team 21-19, 16-21, 17-15.
“It is one of our best every results and it is definitely our best result on the Tour,” Hernandez said. “Now we must get better and better and better.
“It is very exciting to have beaten the reigning Olympic champions, so we are enjoying the moment and aiming to continue to play our best.”
The pair later lost to Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel, while Rogers and Dalhausser recovered with a win over Switzerland’s Jefferson Bellaguarda and Patrick Heuscher.
Hernandez and Villafane still have the chance to progress to the knockout rounds though they will probably need a win over Bellaguarda and Heuscher to give them the best chance of progressing.
“We are excited to be here and while we didn’t win just now, this morning we played our very best when we focused on enjoying the match,” Hernandez said.
“We have to win tomorrow to get into the next round, but we are just proud and excited to be here because we are the first Venezuelan team to reach the Olympics. Now we will give our all to win tomorrow.”
One team that is on track to go straight through to the second knockout is Bruno and Benjamin, who won both their matches.
First up they defeated Renato ‘Geor’ Gomes and Jorge “Gia” Terceiro 21-13, 21-17, then followed that result up with a 21-14, 21-17 victory over Norway’s Tarjei Skarlund and Martin Spinnangr.
“We have started off on the right foot and maintained our focus from last week,” Benjamin said. “We tried to put the pressure on our opponents and Benjamin makes that easy for me to do.
“It was hard to play them (Skarlund and Spinnangr). They never give up on the match and we had to concentrate hard to play at our high level because they are yelling all the time.”
The Brazilian pair are still looking for their first FIVB SWATCH World Tour podium finish since they reunited as a pair at the start of 2012. So far their best result was a fourth place finish at the Shanghai Grand Slam.
They will guarantee themselves first place in the pool if they beat German side Sebastian Dollinger and Stefan Windschief.
“These results were very positive for us if we want to win the pool, now we have to win tomorrow,” Bruno added.
The smart Grand Slam Berlin is the seventh of nine mixed gender tournaments on the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour and the ninth men’s tournament of the year. The men’s final is scheduled to take place on Saturday July 14 and the winning side will leave with the largest share from a purse of $300,000 per gender.
The Berlin tournament is the penultimate before the London 2012 Olympic Games in which 24 men’s and women’s teams will play for gold at London’s Horse Guard’s Parade.
The men’s calendar is set to culminate with the Mazurly Orlen Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki, Poland from August 14-19.