Lupo and Nicolai find form to reach round of 16
After a nervous start Daniele Lupo (left) and Paolo Nicolai are beginning to build momentum at London 2012|
London, Great Britain, August 2, 2012 – Italy’s Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai showed that they are starting to find their best form at the London 2012 Olympic Games as they progressed to the round of 16 via the lucky loser round.
After they had won only one of their matches in their pool they were forced to play-off against Canada’s Martin Reader and Josh Binstock and despite the Canadians having the backing of a vociferous crowd, Lupo and Nicolai won 21-16, 22-20.
“That was much better than last night,” Lupo said. “I said to Paolo that we have to forget the pool. I think we were a bit overwhelmed by the occasion, but tonight we played much better.”
In the other lucky loser round Kay Matysik and Jonathan Erdmann fought back from losing the opening set to beat the Czech Republic’s Premysl Kubala and Petr Benes.
Defending champions Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser continued their unbeaten run at Horse Guard’s Parade when they beat Kubala and Benes 21-13, 21-15 to send the Czechs to the lucky loser round.
“We were just on tonight,” Rogers said. The last few matches we were just off, but we were setting well, serving well and his (Dalhausser’s) blocking was great. I just hope we’re on an upward curve.”
Also advancing straight to the round of 16 are Swiss team Patrick Heuscher and Jefferson Bellaguarda, who knocked Austrians Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst out of the competition with a 24-22, 21-12 victory.
"We really had to win. The Austrians did not have this same pressure,” Heuscher said. “It was harder for us. There was only one direction. We kept to our plan which was to win."
Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira recovered from their loss to Rogers and Dalhausser earlier in the tournament to record their second win. The Spaniards were pushed hard by Japan’s Kentaro Asahi and Katsuhiro Shiratori, but ultimately proved too strong and a Gavira block earned them a 21-19, 22-20 win that sends the Japanese out of the Olympics.
“I was very impressed with the Japanese. They served excellently,” Herrera said.” Adrian and I overcame the strength of the Japanese serve (early in the second set) and this helped us to win.”
Latvia’s Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins caused an upset to win their third match at London 2012. They beat fifth seeds Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil 21-14, 21-18.
“We were surprised they made so many mistakes in the first set,” Plavins said. “In my opinion they are one of the teams that can win a medal, so I am surprised we beat them.
“The weather was great this morning and there were lots of Latvians in the huge crowd. We’re happy, but we can’t relax as the next match will be much harder. There are no easy games now, only the highest level.”
Meanwhile Nummerdor gave his thoughts about competing at his fourth Olympics alongside Atlanta 1996 gold medallist Schuil, who is competing in his fifth Games.
“I still love the sport,” he said. “That is the drive for playing in stadiums like this. That is why I work hard and have the drive. It is just a privilege to play. As long as we can play and compete at this level we’ll keep on playing.”
In London the teams have been split equally into six pools of and the teams play each other once in their group. The top two advance to the single-elimination knockout phase that begins on August 3 along with the two best third-placed teams. The remaining four third-place teams will then compete in playoff matches to determine which pairs will fill the final two places in the 16-team elimination bracket’s first round.
Sixteen teams qualified for the Games through the Olympic Ranking which is based primarily on world tour standings. Five more joined as winners of the AVC, CAVB, CEV, CSV and NORCECA Continental Cup Finals, and two from the World Cup Olympic Qualification Tournament. Great Britain was granted a berth as hosts.
The sold-out beach volleyball competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games is being held through Aug. 9 in a purpose-built 15,000-seat stadium on the grounds of Horse Guards Parade in central London. For current information, visit www.fivb.org.