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Latvia on track for back-to-back gold

Latvia's Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins on track for second Grand Slam gold
The Hague, the Netherlands, June 15, 2013 – Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs are on track for back-to-back Grand Slam gold medals. The Latvian team won the Corrientes Grand Slam just a few weeks ago and reached the final of the Transavia The Hague Grand Slam on Saturday.

They overpowered Austrian qualifiers Alexander Huber and Robin Seidl in the first semifinal of the day. The Latvians were in total control and finished the game in 31 minutes: 21-12 21-14.

Powerful combination

The two players were put together this season by their fathers, who are also their coaches. It was a decision that needed explaining back home in Latvia as Smedins just won bronze at the London Olympic Games with Martins Plavins. But after winning the Grand Slam in Argentina they understood this could be an even more powerful combination.

Smedins and Samoilovs seemed to have no problems with the heavy circulating wind on centre court at the Scheveningen beach. “We had a few mistakes in the beginning, but I think we were in better control of the situation than Austria”, Samoilovs said.

Left-handed Smedins secured the final on their second match point with a spike. Neither of them had been successful so far in The Hague. Samoilovs’ best result was ninth in 2009 with Ruslans Sorokins, Smedins did not get past 17th place. “The Hague was not one of our favourite places so far, but now I think it is”, Smedins said.

Brazil beats Poland

The final is going to be a rematch of the Corrientes semifinal. In Argentina the Latvians defeated Brazil’s Pedro Solberg and Bruno Oscar Schmidt in three sets. The new Brazilian combination earned their second final with an easy win over Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel: 21-13 21-16.

The Brazilians seemed to cope better with the wind. Pedro: “We like to play a fast ball, it’s one of our assets and very effective today.” Since Pedro and Bruno joined this winter they have been very successful, winning silver in Shanghai and finishing fourth in Corrientes.

“With Bruno I want to return to the top”, 27-year old Pedro said. “I was 22 when I won the World Tour and I want to be back on top. Our preparation was very good this season, we had very good results on the national tour in Brazil where we beat teams like Alison and Emanuel. That gave us a lot of confidence.”

Pedro is the third member of the Solberg Salgado family to reach the final in The Hague this year. His sisters, Maria Clara and Carolina Salgado, are in the women’s final on Sunday. “I have not talked to her yet, but I can’t imagine what my mother is thinking right now.”

FIVB Transavia Grand Slam tournament page

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