Another Russian-German final in Anapa
Both teams never played an FIVB final before. While the German team never even won an FIVB medal before, Semenov and Koshkarev are the proud owners of a bronze medal they won in The Hague in 2011.
Only losing one set in the entire event, against Brazil on Saturday, Semenov and Koshkarev had an easy 2-0 (21-12, 21-14) win over Germany’s Eric Koreng and Finn Dittelbach in the semi-final.
The Germans were not able to go by Semenov’s big block and the Russians seemed to handle the strong churning wind on centre court a lot better.
“We were ready to tackle these weather conditions”, Koshkarev said. “It was windy, the sand was very hard. It was easy for us to jump and we already played here during the Russian Club Championships Final, so we were ready to play on this court and I think the guys from Germany were not.”
After a period with lots of injury problems the Russians teamed up again at the beginning of this year.
“I had a big problem with my back”, Koshkarev explained. “About half a year I did not play volley, because it was so painful. My leg did not work normally, some of my muscles did not work because the nerve was blocked.”
After winning the bronze at the end of 2011 they entered the Olympic year with 11th place on the Olympic ranking. But due to Koshkarev’s injury they were sliding down quickly.
To save the situation their coach decided to team Semenov up with Serguei Prokopiev and they finished 9th at the London Olympic Games.
“It was a good decision”, Koshkarev said. “Because I couldn’t play anymore. I went to a rehabilitation centre for four months to get my back fixed. And now it feels really good to be in a final, because it’s an Open final, not Challenger, Satellite, but Open. And we are so happy to be in it.”
Flüggen and Walkenhorst prevent all-Russian final
Their wish for a Russian derby in the final of the Anapa Open, did not come true though. In the second semifinal Germany’s new team Flüggen and Walkenhorst beat Russian qualifiers Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Alexey Pastukhov 2-0 (21-19, 21-17).
For the Germans the revenge was sweet, since they lost to this team 2-1 in pool play.
“It was a hard start, but then we got them in block and defence. We had a better side-out than in the first game against them”, Walkenhorst said.
Both teams struggled with the wind, especially in serving. “The conditions are very difficult to play because you never know where the wind is coming from.”
“I think that’s why the level in the semifinal was not very high, but I hope we can change that in the final, now that we are used to the conditions.”
After a close first set, the Germans seemed to crush the Russians in the second, leading 18-10. But Krasilnikov served his team back in to business with five points in a row. Flüggen and Walkenhorst recovered just at the right moment to finish the game at their second match point.
For the Germans the Anapa Open is their first FIVB event together, for Flüggen even his first FIVB event ever. Walkenhorst’s best result so far was 9th at the Stare Jablonki Grand Slam last year with Kay Matysik.
Their partnership, that started only a few weeks ago, has been very successful. At the two CEV events they played so far they finished first and second.
“We have nothing to lose against Semenov/Koshkarev. They have played a very good tournament. They are seeded position one, not only because of the host country but also because of the points.”
“Normally the teams say I have a big block”, Walkenhorst said about tall Semenov. “But in this case I am the smaller one for sure. We will see, with a 100 percent we can beat them maybe, but it’s going to be hard.”