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All-Dutch semis set up at Xiamen Grand Slam

World champion Alexander Brouwer was on fire.

Xiamen, China, October 25, 2013 – Reigning world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands posted a pair of victories in the knockout stage here on Friday to set up a men’s semifinal clash with compatriots Jon Stiekema/Christiaan Varenhorst in the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Xiamen Grand Slam.

Brouwer/Meeuwsen, who had been crowned at the World Championships in Poland in July, swept Greece’s dark horses Kotsilianos Georgios/Zoupani Nikos 2-0 (21-12, 21-17) in 32 minutes in the quarter-finals Friday afternoon for their fifth straight win in Xiamen and a berth in Saturday morning’s semifinals.

“It’s very nice! In the last tournament of the season, it will be great to finish it with the best results possible. We’re going for it tomorrow, ” said Meeuwsen. “I think we performed at a good level all season long, with one big win, like you already said. I am pretty satisfied, but it will be nice to get nice results here as a finish. ”

Meeuwsen thought it was no coincidence that two teams from the Netherlands made it into the top four in the windy weather in Xiamen.

“We used to praticed in the wind a lot in our country, so we are used to this condition, it’s no coincidence that we’re both in,” he added.

The 20th seeded Stiekema/Varenhorst beat Italy’s Alex Ranghieri/Andrea Tomatis in straight sets (21-17, 21-17) to meet Brouwer/Meeuwsen in the semifinals. It was tied at 15-all in the second set before Stiekema/Varenhorst pulled away with a 4-0 run to make it 19-15. After a smash by Varenhorst gave the Dutch team their first match point at 20-17, Ranghieri made a spiking mistake to send Stiekema/Varenhorst to their first trip to a World Tour medal round this season.

“We are excited of course. It was almost like a home game for us with the wind. In the Netherlands we have the same weather, ” said Varenhorst. “In the condition like this, I think we can reach the final and maybe win the gold.”

Italy’s 11th seeds Nicolai Paolo and Daniele Lupo eliminated seventh seeded Evandro Goncalves Oliveira/Emanuel Rego of Brazil 2-0 (21-15, 21-16) to make the semifinals for the third time in their fifth trip to China.

“I like to play in China! It’s different to play (in windy conditions). We have focused on the match and we played better than our opponents, so we are proud of this,“ said Paolo. “Emanuel is like the history of the sport, a legend. So we are proud of ourselves.“

Paolo and Lupo will also go for the chamionship. “We try to win the tournmanent every time we play, we’ll try to do that and we are ready for this. We have a good season, but sometimes we lost some matches with our mistakes. So we have to stay focused and prepare for the next match. ”

In the last quarter-final match, 10th seeded Alison Cerutti/Vitor Goncalves Felipe rallied past Jacob Gibb/Casey Patterson of the United States 2-1 (11-21, 23-21, 15-11) to remain as the only Brazilian tandem in the title contention following the elimination of Pedro/Bruno and Ricardo/Alvaro.

The double gender Xiamen Grand Slam is the last of a record 10 Grand Slam events on the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar with the men’s and women’s semifinal and final matches set for Saturday and Sunday respectively.

China has hosted more than 23 women’s and 14 men’s tournaments on the FIVB World Tour, but this is the first visit for an FIVB international beach volleyball event in the city of Xiamen. The event in Xiamen is one of three FIVB international beach volleyball events being held in China this year. The first was the 2013 FIVB Open tournament held in Fuzhou on April 23 to 28, followed by the Shanghai Grand Slam, which took place from April 30 to May 5, 2013.

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