Klagenfurt, Austria, July 19, 2012—On another blissful day of searing sunshine and water guns cooling off the boisterous crowd that packed Klagenfurt stadium center court Thursday, the men’s 32-team main draw completed two of three rounds of pool play with several upsets as ten teams from five countries emerged unbeaten heading into Friday’s final round of round-robin pool play and the first round of single-elimination bracket play at the $600,000 A1 Grand Slam presented by ERGO in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee.
The world’s top beach volleyball tandems have returned to Austria as the double-gender event marks the 16th consecutive visit by the FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour with Klagenfurt hosting 15 men’s and 11 previous women’s events. In 2001 Klagenfurt hosted the FIVB SWATCH World Championships and has hosted a grand slam every year since 2002.
Leading their respective pools with three teams is Germany and Brazil, the Netherlands with two teams along with one team from the United States. The 32 teams in the men’s main draw have been divided into eight pools of four teams each playing three round-robin matches over two days.
One of the most popular events of many ‘favorite’ events on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour, the Klagenfurt venue features a purpose-built 8,000-seat stadium center court and massive two-story VIP hospitality area and private dock along with another private players dock alongside the short of spectacularly beautiful Lake Woerth in western Klagenfurt, which is located in Southern Austria.
On Friday, the men complete pool play with single morning matches that will determine the 24 teams that will head into the final single-elimination phase of the tournament. With the eight pool winners receiving a bye in the first round of elimination, the other 16 teams will play their first elimination round Friday afternoon. On Saturday, the winner’s of Friday’s first round of eliminations will meet the eight pool play winners in the round of 16 followed by the quarterfinals to determined the men’s final four. On Sunday, the internationally-televised men’s semifinals and medal matches will be held on the Klagenfurt stadium center court.
Leading their pools after the first day of round-robin pool play are Germany’s 17th-seeded Sebastian Dollinger/Stefan Windscheif (Pool J), USA’s second-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (Pool K), Brazil’s third-seeded Pedro Cunha/Ricardo Santos (Pool L), Brazil’s fourth-seeded Benjamin Insfran/Bruno Oscar Schmidt (Pool M), Germany’s 12th-seeded Jonahan Erdmann/Kay Matysik (Pool N), Germany’s sixth-seeded Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann (Pool O), Netherlands’ 26th-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen (Pool P) and Netherlands’ eighth-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Richard Schuil (Pool Q). All pool leaders were 2-0 Thursday. The pool leaders who won both their matches without losing a set, each going 4-0 in sets for the day were Brazil’s Benjamin/Schmidt, Germany’s Brink/Reckermann and Netherlands’ Nummerdor/Schuil.
Also undefeated but second in their respective groups because of tie-break rules is Netherlands’ 14th-seeded Emiel Boersma/Daan Spijkers (Pool L) and Italy’s 11th-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai (Pool O).
The seventh of a FIVB-record eight grand slams on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour schedule, the A1 Grand Slam began with women’s country quota matches on Monday, continued with the single elimination qualification tournament on Tuesday to determine the final eight spots in the women’s 32-team main draw pool play on Wednesday and Thursday and single-elimination bracket Thursday afternoon through Friday. The women’s semifinals and medal matches will be played Saturday with the men’s “final four” matches Sunday as the winning pairs in each gender share the $43,500 first-place prizes. The men’s schedule mirrors the women, starting one day later with country quota matches on Tuesday and the men’s competition finishing on Wednesday. Silver medalists will split $29,500 while bronze medal winners will divide $23,000 and the four place teams in each gender will each receive $18,400.
In the biggest seed break-through of the first two of three pool play matches was Germany’s 17th-seeded Dollinger/Windscheif three-set win over USA’s top-seeded Jake Gibb/Sean Rosenthal, 22-20, 13-21 and 21-19 in 59 minutes, the longest men’s match of the day. USA’s Gibb/Rosenthal have won two gold medals and one silver in the last three FIVB SWATCH World Tour events.
“It was a big win for us, for sure and it could have gotten much closer than it was,” said Dollinger afterwards. “The Americans have been playing on fire and I wouldn’t say they have cooled down much, and they still will advance to single-elimination and I think we will as well so who knows. We played really well today and didn’t let up and got both wins and we’re very happy to have them.”
Germany’s Dollinger/Windscheif won their first match of the day over Latvia’s 16th-seeded Martins Plavins/Janis Smedins, 22-20, 21-15 in 41 minutes. The USA’s Gibb/Rosenthal are 1-1 having opened the day with a win over Estonia’s 32nd-seeded Kristo Kollo/Rivo Vesik, 21-19, 21-12 in 36 minutes.
Another of the surprising performances of the day came from Netherlands’ 26th-seeded Brouwer/Meeuwsen. On Thursday, the defeated both Brazil’s seventh-seeded Marcio Araujo/Pedro Salgado, 15-21, 21-19 and 15-13 in 54 minutes and Austria’s 10th-seeded Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst, 21-17, 21-19 in 37 minutes.
The talented field includes the three of the final four finishers in the women’s competition from last year and all four of the men’s final four from last year’s A1 Grand Slam in Klagenfurt. Returning from last year’s women’s competition are China’s silver medalists Chen Xue/Xi Zhang, Netherland’s bronze medalists Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel and Brazil’s Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes who finished fourth last year for the third consecutive year. Brazil’s reigning FIVB SWATCH World Champions Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca are entered this year in Klagenfurt as well where they won the gold medal in both 2009 and 2010 and the silver in 2006.
Last year’s men’s final four finishers in Kalgenfurt, who are all entered this year with one player switching partners are Brazil’s Pedro Cunha/Ricardo Santos (gold), Germany’s Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann (silver), USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (bronze) and fourth place was Brazil’s Joao Maciel/Bruno Oscar Schmidt although this year Schmidt is playing with Benjamin Insfran, who won this event in 2003 in Marcio Araujo.
A total of 155 teams from 37 countries (89 men’s teams from 30 countries and 66 women’s teams from 24 countries) started the A1 Grand Slam presented by ERGO (as of July 15, 2012), including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United States, and Venezuela.
The 2012 calendar features 13 women's and 12 men's events, including nine double-gender tournaments, within four of the five FIVB confederations in addition to the approaching 2012 London Olympic Games on July 28 to August 9 in a purpose-built 15,000 stadium on the grounds of the iconic Horse Guards Parade. The 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour is offering $6,110-million in prize money.
After the 2012 London Olympic Games, the 2012 FIVB Swatch World Tour returns to action with the eighth and final grand slam double-gender event August 13-19 with the Mazury Orlen Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki, Poland. The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000.
The A1 Grand Slam is the 241st women’s event and 281st men’s event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour (open, grand slam, Olympic and Goodwill) schedule. The first men’s FIVB SWATCH World Tour event was played February 17-22, 1987 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the first women’s event was played August 14-16, 1992 at Almeria, Spain.
Also on-site this week at the Klagenfurt venue is a special production crew from IMG, the company that not only produces the live international telecasts of the medal matches, but also the weekly FIVB SWATCH World Tour highlight show that is syndicated throughout the world.
For more information on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour or the event, please visit www.fivb.org. For additional information on the A1 Grand Slam, please visit the event website at www.beachvolleyball.at.