All-Latvian men’s final in Durban
Smedins and Samoilovs gathered enough points in the morning with wins over France’s Ces/Rowlandson (21-12 21-12) and the Italian Ingrosso-twins (15-21 21-18 15-6) to grab the World Tour title before they met the number two on the 2013 ranking, Brazil’s Pedro Solberg and Bruno Oscar Schmidt in the semifinal.
They won 2-0 (28-26 21-14), but the match was already decided in the first set. In the beginning of the first the Latvians took a four-point lead with strong serving pressure from Smedins, which made Brazil insecure in reception. But Pedro and Bruno fought back to level at 20-20.
The Brazilians had four opportunities to grab the first set, but it was Latvia who took it at their fifth set point. In the second Pedro and Bruno were not able to recharge and Latvia eased to the final.
Meeting up with an old partner
In the gold medal match Smedins will meet his old partner Plavins, with whom he won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Plavins also played with Samoilovs between 2005 and 2008, finishing 9th at the 2008 Athens Olympic Games.
Plavins found a new partner this year in 22-year old Solovejs. The Durban Open is only their second FIVB event together after the Moscow Grand Slam, where they were eliminated in qualification.
In the early morning Plavins and Solovejs defeated Italy’s Ranghieri/Tomatis (21-16 24-22) and China’s Chen/Li (21-18 21-15), before they beat Premysl Kubala and Jan Dumek from the Czech Republic 2-0 (21-14 21-18) to reach the final.
Plavins is an established veteran on the World Tour with three career wins in eleven seasons and an olympic bronze. For Solojevs the Durban Open is only his fifth FIVB event.
Plavins: “For my partner this is only his third main draw. We are happy that we won all the matches we could. In the pool we lost against our guys, there are number one right now. For us there was a small chance we would reach the final and we did not disappoint.”
Winning against Italy’s Ranghieri/Tomatis earlier on Saturday was a big boost for them. “Because it was very important for us. Because we played in Moscow against them in the last round and we lost 2-1 to them. So that’s why we wanted to beat them very much.”
“For Latvian history it is great that we play against Latvia in a final of the FIVB. I don’t know when that is going to happen again.”