Unstoppable run for Austria’s Huber and Seidl in Fuzhou
Bottom seeded Huber and Seidl’s first match of the day was an epic battle with USA legend Todd Rogers and new partner Ryan Doherty, ending with the Austrian underdogs winning 2-1 (15-21, 24-22, 15-13).
Another USA clash came in the second round against Jacob Gibb and Casey Patterson, but the Austrians remained unfazed with another victory 2-0 (21-18, 21-18). In the quarter final and their third match of the day, Huber and Seidl took Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen from The Netherlands all the way to the third set, finally earning them a spot in the semi-finals 2-1 (18-21, 21-10, 15-11).
Huber and Seidl face Italy’s Nicolai Paolo and Daniele Lupo in the first semi-final followed by USA’s Sean Rosenthal and Philip Dalhausser against Brazilians Ricardo Alex Costa Santos and Álvaro Morais Filho on Saturday.
Six of the eight teams who entered the Main Draw from the Qualification Tournament advanced to the first round of pool play in the morning. Of the six, Huber and Seidl, along with Russian pairs Serguei Prokopiev and Yury Bogatov, and Konstantin Semenov and Yaroslav Koshkarev made up the three pairs to make it through to the second round.
The second round was then the end of the road for the Russians, but the Austrians proved unstoppable.
“We’re speechless. It feels unreal, it’s a great feeling,” said Huber. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow, I think there will be a good crowd. The podium would be the greatest thing ever.”
“It was tough against the Dutch team. They started really well and we’d played them before in the tournament so we knew it would be a tough match and they started to bump serves at us and we couldn’t find our rhythm, but in the second set we flipped the script and started to serve more aggressively.”
“We wanted to play a good match against Rogers, we played once against him and we lost. It was just amazing to play against him because he’s kind of a legend for us and we played well and it was really close and it just happened that we won the first match and it was unbelievable,” said Seidl.
“The second match we were in flow and we enjoyed playing. The last match was really tough, to warm up again, it was a long day here. It was hard to find the game but we played really, really well and it was a good match.”
Italy’s Nicolai Paolo and Daniele Lupo are safely through to the semi-finals after winning a tough match against Brazil’s Pedro Solberg Salgado and Bruno Oscar Schmidt 2-0 (23-21, 21-19).
Topping Pool D, Paolo and Lupo progressed directly into the second round of the single elimination phase meeting Russians Serguei Prokopiev and Yury Bogatov in their first match of the day. The Italians made light work of the match, winning in just 30 minutes 2-0 (21-8, 21-14).
Their third round match proved more of a challenge against Pedro and Bruno.
“I’m really proud of us because we played a really good match. They are Brazilian so they have already played in tournaments this year and for us it’s the first of the year and so it’s a good result,” said Paolo.
“We have been improving match by match and so we hope that tomorrow we can play better than today.”
Fuzhou, capital of the Fujian province lies on the southeast coast of mainland China and hosts the Open event for the first time. The city held the AVC Beach Volleyball Continental Cup in 2012 where Christopher McHugh and Isaac Kapa were part of the silver medal Australian team.
The Fuzhou Open is the first of eight Open events during a bumper nine-month season, which also includes the FIVB World Tour – 10 Grand Slams and the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Stare Jablonki, Poland.
The Shanghai Grand Slam is the next tournament on the calendar running from April 30 to May 5.
Follow live comments throughout the tournament at #FuzhouOpen