Ricardo and Alvaro upset defending champions to reach the final
In the final they will face Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen from the Netherlands who beat Germany’s Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik 2-0 (21-13 21-17) to become the first Dutch team to ever win a medal at the World Championships.
The last time 38-year old Ricardo played his former teammate Emanuel was in the final of the World Championships in Rome in 2011, where Emanuel clinched his third world title. This time the odds were on Ricardo’s side as he and Alvaro beat their compatriots 2-0 (21-14 22-20).
Ricardo won his only world title with Emanuel in 2003 in Rio de Janeiro and already competed in seven earlier editions in which he also won two silvers, but for young Alvaro, who teamed up with Ricardo only this year, this is his first World Championship and his first ever final at this level.
Living in a dream
“I still can’t believe it. I live in a dream”, Alvaro said. “Ricardo was the partner I always dreamed of. He’s amazing. I never thought I would be a professional player one day and now I am here. My father always said you have to believe in your dreams and in yourself. If you believe you can do anything, even when you are short like me.”
After winning the first set Ricardo and Alvaro were trailing in the second set, but took a lead at just the right moment. After warding off a set point, they had their first match point at 21-20, and claimed victory after a shaky reception by Emanuel.
“We were very focussed”, Alvaro said. “Ricardo knows them very well and we talked a lot about tactics. I just did what he said.”
Dutch delight on centre court
Dutch Brouwer and Meeuwsen, who never even reached a final four on the World Tour before, set the tone from the beginning against Germany’s Erdmann and Matysik. With high attacks, tall blocks and strong serving the Dutch were in total control.
Erdmann and Matysik, who reached the semis with only straight wins, had only one chance to take the lead, at 15-15 in the second set. But the Dutch withstood the challenge and reached their first set point at 20-16 to claim their first final on the second one.
“We had a lot of serving pressure on them”, Meeuwsen said. “That’s one of our main strengths. You could see how hard is was for them to side-out with a big block. And every ball that Alex defends, he scores. This is a really effective way to play beach volleyball.”
“We never played with such an atmosphere in the stadium”, Brouwer said. “They won every match with straight sets so far and that was amazing. I still can’t believe we are in the final, still don’t realize what is happening here.”
For the final they will have the support of their girlfriends who drove all night to get to Stare Jablonki. “Brazil is always a really tough opponent, either one of them. We just play our best and see if it’s enough or not”, Meeuwsen said.
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