Berlin, Germany, July 12, 2012 – Dutch pair Jon Stiekema and Christian Varenhorst won a three-set match in the first knockout round at the smart Grand Slam, Berlin on Thursday, to set up a clash with reigning world champions Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti.
The duo are slowly making their mark on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour, but they are yet to beat the Brazilians and realize what a tough task they will face to overturn that record.
“We have played them four times already and lost to them,” Stiekema said. “When it gets to the fifth time it is nice to play them, but you’d rather just win.
“Truthfully I would really have preferred another team, but let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”
Stiekema and Varenhorst set up their match against Emanuel and Alison with a 25-23, 23-25, 15-12 win over Canada’s Ben Saxton and Christian Redmann.
“It was a crazy match all over, so we didn’t know what to expect, even at the end,” Stiekema said. “We are just really glad we pulled the third set out.”
Also into the second knockout round are Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Ruslans Sorokins. They beat their compatriots Janis Smedins and Martins Plavins in a three-set showdown.
Smedins and Plavins took the first set, but Samoilovs and Sorokins fought back in the second and then won the tie-break to finish with a 14-21, 21-19, 15-12 victory.
“We have both been playing on the World tour for a long time, but it was only in Moscow this year that we met in a match,” Samoilovs said.
“Psychologically it was an important match for us because last time we lost to them, so we needed to beat them to boost our confidence.”
Samoilovs and Sorokins will now play World Tour stalwarts Richard Schuil and Reinder Nummerdor, who are ranked eighth in Berlin and already boast one gold medal and a silver medal from the 2012 Tour.
“They are the only team we have never beaten and hopefully we will play much better,” Samoilovs said.
“We did a lot of work over the winter and it is the first time that my partner didn’t play the indoor season, so we feel we are in good condition. We have a chance to win, we have to win.”
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.