Nicolai/Lupo land back-to-back World Tour title in Shanghai
Shanghai, China, May 3, 2014 – Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo of Italy rallied past Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins 2-1 (24-26, 21-18, 15-12) in a thrilling full-set final of the US$800,000 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Shanghai Grand Slam here Saturday afternoon for their second World Tour title in as many tournaments.
It was also the first Grand Slam title for the Italian duo, who had been crowned at the season-opening Fuzhou Open last week.
“It's incredible! All the best teams are here and we won the first Grand Slam for Italy. I’m very proud of us, very proud of our staff, hopefully we will continue like this,” said Nicolai after clinching the match winner for his side with an ace.
Having reaped their first two World Tour titles in Fuzhou, Shanghai and some more medals from previous events in China, Nicolai/Lupo felt that this is the lucky place for them.
“We catch medal here every time, I don't know what it is, but I like China and I hope to play more tournaments in China,” Nicolai said. “For us every time in China is our lucky tournament.”
It was the second come-from-behind victory in one day for Nicolai/Lupo, who rallied past Pedro Salgado and Emanuel Rego 2-1 (18-21, 21-13, 15-13) in the first men’s semi-final match Saturday morning.
They were taking a three-point lead in the first set of the men’s final when the Latvians ran off three points to level it at 20-all. A serving error of Smedins and a Nicolai block against Smedins gave the Italians the edge at 24-23, but Smedins came back to tie it at 24-all with a smash before consecutive mistakes of Lupo awarded the opener to Latvia.
“We were playing good, but Latvia in the final played better than us. But we were focused on the match and we knew our potential and what we can do. And we tried to do that and at the finish we have the win,” Nicolai added.
The second set was also hotly contested in the early stage, but Nicolai/Lupo suddenly pulled away from a 17-all draw and wrapped up the set with a 4-1 run to force the tiebreaker. In the third set, Nicolai/Lupo squandered a 5-1 advantage to allow the Latvians tie it at 9-all. After a dink of Lupo, a solid block of Nicolai against Samoilovs and an ace by Nicolai gave Italy another three-point cushion, Samoilovs scored one point from a long rally and Smedins had an ace to cut it to 12-11. The Italian tandem called a time-out and Nicolai came up big when the play resumed as he had two successful shots and served the match winner.
Having had a fantastic start to the new season, Nicolai/Lupo vowed to play better and win more. “For sure we can improve, because we had a lot of mistakes today and there was a lot of wind, and we had some problems with our passing, but we are playing good,” he said. “Now we have the European Championships in Italy and other World Tour events, we also want to catch gold there.”
In the bronze medal match, Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik of Germany beat Pedro/Emanuel 2-1 (15-21, 21-19, 15-10).
“We had great groups and played very well in the beginning and only in the semi and small final we were not so good, but in the end we stabilized and we had a really good end,” said Matysik.
“We want to make it step by step and get better and better,” Erdmann added. “We want to have a lot of semis and hopefully a lot of medals, because we need to play really good on a high level and to practice with these perfect players for the Olympics.”
The 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar features a record purse of US$10.2 million with a season that extends from late April to mid-December competing at 21 venues in 18 countries. This year’s FIVB World Tour includes a record 10 FIVB Grand Slam events, the inaugural Grand Slam Finale and 11 FIVB Open Tournaments throughout the world, helping expand the door for development of the sport even further.
The 10 FIVB Grand Slam competitions, all double-gender, have eight with $800,000 in total purses while both The Hague, Netherlands and the Long Beach, Calif., USA event will have $1 million each in prize money, the most in FIVB Grand Slam history.
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