Nicolai and Lupo lead chase for home honours in Rome
After Nicolai and Lupo had comfortable won the opening set, Nummerdor and Schuil used all their experience to haul themselves back into the match. However, the Italian pair battled hard to stay ahead in the tie-break and kept the Dutch duo at arm’s length to win 2-1 (21-18, 17-21, 15-11) at the Foro Italico.
“Yesterday we were able to control things better on the court,” Nicolai said. “Today we will have to look at what happened from the second set on, maybe it was the heat. In the end we did well to use our heads to stay in the match and we played much better in the third set.”
“It wasn’t easy at all,” Lupo added. “They made it very hard and they did very well to take their chances in the second set. At times we weren’t at our best, but in the end we won.”
Nicolai and Lupo have been one of the revelations on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour in the last 18 months and a year ago they were in the midst of securing their qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games, where they knocked out the defending champions Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser.
Already this year they have won a Grand Slam silver and bronze and they know that when they are at their best they can cause any team problems.
“We know that when we play to our maximum we can go a long way,” Nicolai said. “The level of the World Tour is very even and anyone can beat anyone and anyone can lose to anyone else. We’ll try our best to keep our standard as high as possible.”
Polish pair keep up unbeaten start
Polish team Mariusz Prudel and Grzegorz Fijalek were another pair to secure their second wins at the tournament and maintain the momentum of winning the bronze medals at last weeks The Hague Grand Slam.
After beating their compatriots Michal Kadziola and Jakub Szalankiewicz on day one they returned to court on day two to beat Switzerland’s Sebastian Chevallier and Alexei Prawdzic 2-0 (21-19, 25-23).
With the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships set to start a week after Rome in Stare Jablonki in northeast Poland, the Polish pair hope the conditions in the Italian capital can help prepare them for an assault on the world title.
“Of course after two hard weeks it is important to win the game and we hope that we can win our pool, so we must concentrate on our third game and I think we can do that,” Prudel said.
“They weren’t easy matches and the temperature is really high and it is really hard to play in these weather conditions, but I think it is good to prepare for Stare Jablonki in these conditions.”
The Rome Grand Slam is the fourth Grand Slam of 10 on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. The competition runs from June 17 until June 23, when both the men’s and women’s finals take place.
Following the Rome Grand Slam, the world’s leading players take a week’s break before the start of the ninth FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Stare Jablonki from July 1-7. After the World Championships are completed the World Tour resumes the following week at the Gstaad Grand Slam in the Swiss Alps.
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