Durban set to host men’s ranking showdown
Lausanne, Switzerland, December 9, 2013 – Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs need to reach the quarterfinals of the Durban Open to be crowned FIVB Beach Volleyball Men's World Tour season ranking winners.
The Latvian duo currently lead the standings with 6,990 points, ahead of Pedro Salgado and Bruno Schmidt who are on 6,740. Even if the Brazilians win and with it claim the 500 points on offer, a quarterfinal place for Smedins and Samoilovs would earn them 350 points and secure them the World Tour title with 7,340 points to 7,240.
Italy’s Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo are currently confirmed for third place as FIVB Beach Volleyball World Champions Robert Meeuwsen and Alexander Brouwer, World Championships silver medallists Ricardo Santo and Alvaro Filho and the USA’s Jacob Gibb and Casey Patterson are not scheduled to participate in Durban.New partnerships
Both Smedins and Samoilovs, and Pedro and Bruno teamed up for the first time at the start of 2013. However, Pedro and Bruno knew each other well before, having won the 2006 U21 World Championships, the only time before this year that they had played together in an FIVB tournament.
Smedins' decision to team up with Samoilovs was a surprise one. He and previous partner Martins Plavins won the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games, one of only two medals Latvia won; and then claimed their first FIVB World Tour gold medal at Stare Jablonki a week later.
However, Smedins wanted a return to the back of the court, having played as blocker with Plavins. Samoilovs was considered one of the up-and-coming stars of beach volleyball, and they announced their partnership late in 2012.
On the World Tour, Smedins and Samoilovs and Pedro and Bruno have identical records with two golds medal, two silvers and a bronze.
Pedro and Bruno opened their account by winning silver at the first Grand Slam of the year in Shanghai before Smedins and Samoilovs got off the mark at the next Grand Slam in Corrientes when they won the gold medal in spectacular style.
The teams met in the final at The Hague with Pedro and Bruno finishing top of the podium. A week later in Rome they both finished on the podium again, this time the Latvians claimed silver and the Brazilians bronze.
After both pairs missed out on the medals at the World Championships, Pedro and Bruno returned to form in Gstaad and claimed their second silvers of the year, while Smedins and Samoilovs' next podium finish came in Moscow.
The Latvians enjoyed their most recent success together at the Sao Paolo Grand Slam. Pedro and Bruno won gold and Smedins and Samoilovs finished with bronze.
Smedins and Samoilovs' point lead comes from earning ranking points by winning silver at the CEV European Championships, while Bruno and Pedro struggled for form on the South American and Brazilian Tours.
The men’s season will come down to a nail-biting finish on South Africa’s Indian Ocean coast, and while the Latvians may hold a slight advantage, any slip-up will be pounced upon mercilessly by Pedro and Bruno.
The Durban Open runs from December 11 to 15 and is the final FIVB event of the year.