Germany’s Flüggen and Fuchs upset hosts to play top-seeded Latvians in CEV beach volleyball championship
Their victory is a very remarkable result taking into account that they just teamed up before the start of the tournament after Flüggen’s regular partner, Sebastian Dollinger, got injured. Fuchs, on the other hand, is not a real newcomer at this level and last year even briefly played with London 2012 Olympic champion Julius Brink on the World Tour.
On Friday afternoon, Flüggen and Fuchs upset the local crowd as they edged Andrea Tomatis and Alex Ranghieri 2-0 (30-28, 21-18) to play now top-seeded Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs of Latvia in the quarterfinal. Flüggen and Fuchs found a way to cope with the strong wind that breezed almost all-day long and even warded off a few set balls for their opponents in the opening set.
The first stage of their match with Tomatis and Ranghieri turned into the longest set so far in the tournament, ending at 30-28. The score was tight all the way through also in the second set but Flüggen and Fuchs got a narrow margin while approaching the final stretch and pulled out another straight-set victory to follow up on their 2-0 win over Sébastien Chevallier and Alexei Prawdzic of Switzerland.
“We kept cool also after a very close and much contested first set,” said Flüggen, who delighted the audience with his spectacular defence actions. “We executed our game plan and played exactly the way we wanted.”
The second round of the elimination phase did also put an end to the campaign of 2013 world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands. Meeuwsen had just returned to the sand after spending six weeks to nurse an injury, and the “Oranjes” could not stand the very tough opposition brought by Austrian pair Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst 2-1 (21-17, 17-21, 15-13).
“The preparation for this tournament was not ideal but we still hoped to get some good result here,"Brouwer said. "We are disappointed with losing this match, especially since we were leading 7-3 in the tie-break. We played better than we did last week in Baden and we look forward to the next tournaments."
The Netherlands still have one team in the loop after Jon Stiekema and Christiaan Varenhorst beat Tobias Winter and Lorenz Petutschnig of Austria in only 29 minutes 2-0 (21-13, 21-11) to move on to the round of the top 8.
Top-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins of Latvia showed a very strong performance, especially in the first set of their match with Russian team of Konstantin Semenov and Viacheslav Krasilnikov 2-0 (21-12, 23-21), thereby re-asserting their status as the hottest contenders for the fictional title of “kings of the beach”.
Last year’s bronze medallists Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel of Poland also continued their triumphal march in the tournament - the winners of the Baden Masters shut out Swiss pair Philip Gabathuler and Mirco Gerson 2-0 (21-10, 21-14) to stay in contention for a spot in the semifinals coming up on Sunday.
Italy’s Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo – the other main contenders for the gold medal – easily disposed of their countrymen Matteo Cecchini and Matteo Martino in straight sets (21-16, 22-20) and are the only team from the host country still alive in the competition.
Reigning European champions Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira look determined to retain the title they won last year in Klagenfurt and on Friday made the quarterfinals after besting Finn Dittelbach and Eric Koreng of Germany 2-0 (21-18, 21-10).
Germany’s hierarchy was turned upside down on Friday when Alexander Walkenhorst and Stefan Wundscheif beat the bronze medallists from last year’s World Championship, Kay Matysik and Jonathan Erdmann in straight sets (21-19, 21-15) to also make the quarterfinals.
“It was not easy to cope with these windy conditions and we found the best way to adjust to that,” Windscheif said. “Our opponent’s main strength is the stability and consistency in the way they play, but this does not work in such conditions like those we had today, where you have to improvise. So we found the best way to cope with that and this way we eventually won the match.”
The quarterfinal competition will resume on Saturday.