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Italian qualifiers keep up run to last four at Berlin smart Grand Slam

Italy's Andrea Tomatis (left) and Alex Ranghieri are looking forward to their first World Tour semifinal
Berlin, Germany, August 9, 2013 – It has been a long week for Andrea Tomatis and Alex Ranghieri, but the pair are now one match away from the Berlin smart Grand Slam gold medal match after reaching the semifinals on Friday. 

The Italians won all three matches starting with Switzerland’s Philip Gabathuler and Jonas Weingart, which was followed by a three-set thriller against Latvia’s FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour rankings leaders Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs.

Their run culminated in a 2-0 (21-19, 21-19) win over the last remaining German men’s team, Sebastian Dollinger and Stefan Windscheif to set up a semifinal against another team who made it through qualification, Brazil’s Vitor Felipe and Evandro Goncalves.

“It is a kind of dream,” Tomatis said. “I didn’t expect to win the previous match against Latvia or this one; they are both great teams. We were 15-11 down against Samoilovs and Smedins and we came back point by point and won the second one and the third one was very, very close.

“This was a huge match, but we were calm and focused on the other team and we did very well. We were a bit tired because we woke up at six o’clock to play our first match against Switzerland, so we are about done now, but that’s ok, we’re in a semifinal.”

It has been a long week for the duo already, who stepped in at the last minute to play in the qualifiers. However, they are now able to look forward to a World Tour Grand Slam semifinal.

“It is my first one,” Tomatis said. “We weren’t supposed to play here, we were the reserve team and replaced the Ingrosso brothers (Paolo and Matteo) and that gave us the chance to play. 

“We knew we had to play on Monday at 1pm, so we rushed here to Berlin and played the qualifiers on Tuesday.”

Russian pair knockout world champs on way to semifinals

Russia’s Konstantin Semenov and new partner Viacheslav Krasilnikov also reached their first ever Grand Slam semifinals by knocking out world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen.

The Russians had to dig deep in the tie-break, but with Semenov dominating at the net and Krasilnikov agile in defence, once they opened up a lead they didn’t look back and won 2-1 (16-21, 21-19, 15-12). 

It means that Semenov is in line for his second FIVB podium finish after he and Yaroslav Koshkarev won the Anapa Open in front of their home fans recently, but will need to beat newly crowned European champions Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira to reach the final. 

“I’m very happy,” Semenov said. “I’m with a new partner and he played very well. This season we’ve played them four times and now it is 3-1 to us. It was a really tight game.”

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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