World leaders roar into form at Berlin smart Grand Slam
The pair topped their pool and went straight into the second elimination round with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) win over Australia’s Christopher McHugh and Isaac Kapa in 35 minutes.
“To be honest we are really tired,” Samoilovs said. “We went to Long Beach and played three tournaments; the Grand Slam, six against six and the World Series.
“Then last week we went to Klagenfurt (European Championships), where it was really hot, 40 degrees and we played the maximum matches. We had a day at home and then came here, but we’re happy to have won all our matches because we now have one match less.”
Smedins and Samoilovs went top of the rankings following the previous Grand Slam in Long Beach, USA where they reached the quarterfinals.
Their elevation to first place reflects the immediate impact they have made since teaming up at the start of the year. They won their first tournament together at the Corrientes Grand Slam and added silver medals at The Hague and Rome Grand Slams and the European Championships.
“To be honest every player dreams of Olympic gold or World Championships or being first in the world, but don’t say it,” Samoilovs added. “We were hoping to be in about sixth place, but still it’s great.”
Nicolai and Lupo enjoying la dolce vita
Italy’s Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo were another team to make it through pool play with three victories under their belts.
Their third victory was the toughest so far in the tournament, but they came back from losing the first set to beat world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen 2-1 (13-21, 21-9, 15-9) in 41 minutes.
“We hope to continue this rhythm we are building,” Lupo said. “We beat them earlier in the year in Argentina, but they showed what a strong team they are by winning the World Championships and it is always difficult to beat them.”
Like their Latvian counterparts Nicolai and Lupo have also added to their medal collections this year with bronze medals at the Shanghai and Corrientes Grand Slams and silver medals at the Fuzhou Open.
More recently at the European Championships they finished fourth and they are aiming to maintain that run of form in Berlin.
“We’re going really well and very happy,” Lupo said. “We’ve had a good couple of recent tournaments and played well at the European Championships, so we hope to continue that.”
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.
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