European champs continue good form at Berlin smart Grand Slam
First off the Spanish pair defeated their compatriots Francisco Alfredo Marco and Christian Garcia 2-0 (21-16, 24-22) and then followed up with a 2-0 (21-14, 21-18) win over USA’s Ryan Doherty and Todd Rogers.
“I’m very happy with our work today,” Herrera said. “We came here from Klagenfurt (European Championships) and knew we had to really concentrate hard after a tough week there.
“We had to start the matches well to maintain our confidence from our win last week.”
The Spaniard’s victory over Latvian duo Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins in the final at the popular Austrian venue of Klagenfurt completed a remarkable turnaround for the pair.
Earlier in the year 2004 Olympic silver medallist Herrera was struggling to find form and fitness as he battled to recover from a knee injury. They slowly returned to their best and reached the quarterfinals at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships and the Gstaad Grand Slam.
At the next FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour tournament, the Long Beach Grand Slam, they finished second for their first Grand Slam podium place since Rome in 2010 and then a week later they became continental champions for the first time.
“It is incredible. At the start of the year it was unthinkable that after the operation on my knee we would finish the year as European champions. We went into the tournament hoping to be in the top 10.
“It’s just work, hard work, more work and then even more work.”
Erdmann and Matysik signal home strength
Germany’s leading men’s team Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik also started the tournament with a pair of wins.
The World Championships bronze medallists started the day with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-19) victory over Czech Republic’s Premysl Kubala and Jan Dumek. Next up were Kazakhstan’s Alexey Sidorenko and Alexandr Dyachenko, whom Erdmann and Matysik beat 2-0 (21-17, 21-17).
“We now have two wins in two matches from the first day,” Erdmann said. “We have also defeated the Kazakhstani guys who are very difficult to play. Our aim for the last pool match is to win as we want to take the chance to win the group.”
Brazil duo lead qualification
The men’s tournament began on Tuesday, August 8 with the men’s qualifying round. Brazil’s Vitor Felipe and Evandro Goncalves were ranked number one and duly reached the main draw.
Second seeds Robert Kufa and Jan Hadrava of the Czech Republic also reached pool play, along with Kubala and Dumek and teams from USA, Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain.
The Berlin smart Grand Slam is the seventh Grand Slam on the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, which is comprised of 10 Grand Slam events and the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships. There are also eight Open events and while they are not part of the World Tour, they still count towards the FIVB World Rankings and help open the door for development of the sport.
The tournament concludes with the women’s gold and bronze medal matches on Sunday August 11, while the men’s medal matches take place on Saturday August 10.