Gibb/Patterson lead three American teams into Shanghai Grand Slam top 16
Shanghai, China, May 1, 2014 – Defending champions Jacob Gibb and Casey Patterson collected their third straight win in the Main Draw pool play over Chinese tandem Chen Cheng/Li Jian here Thursday morning to lead three teams from the United States into the top 16 round of the US$800,000 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Shanghai Grand Slam.
Top seeded Americans Sean Rosenthal/Philip Dalhausser and lucky qualifiers John Hyden/Tri Bourne also secured their berths in the top 16 round with unbeaten records in respective groups. Other undefeated pool winners include newly-crowned Fuzhou Open champions Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo of Italy, Pedro Salgado/Emanuel Rego from Brazil, Spain’s Pablo Herrera Allepuz/Adrian Gavira Collado and Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins.
Gibb/Patterson, who had claimed their first World Tour title together in Shanghai last year, held off Chen/Li 2-1 (21-13, 19-21, 15-11) to win Pool H with a 3-0 record and a bye in the first round of the 24-team knock-out stage Friday morning.
“It was a good match for us, we had to play very hard,” said Patterson. “They are a very good team. It’s the first time we play either of those guys. The blocker is very good and I think he is probably the best player in the Chinese teams.”
Dropping the first set easily, the home duo fought bravely in the second. Chen stopped ice Gibb to give the Chinese team an 18-16 advantage and they held to 20-19 before a serving error of Gibb awarded the second set to China. In the tie-breaker, the Americans jumped to a 9-5 lead and went on to clinch the victory in 52 minutes.
“Maybe we sat back a little after a good win (in the first set). When you won by good points, it's easy to be maybe a little too relaxed. My passing was a little bit lazy, maybe I was not as crispy shooting the ball,” Patterson added. “We focused for the third because they played much better in the second. There were a lot of rallies and I think we won most of them, because we were working really hard.”
Patterson was eager to repeat the title winning feat in Shanghai, where he captured his first gold medal ever in the World Tour.
“It's the only gold for me and it's very special to me,” he said. “It's our goal (to win the gold) and winning the pool means getting one step closer. Our goal is now to be really focused, find out who we need to play, one game, one point at a time, and hopefully repeat the gold again.”
Following two upset wins over Brazil’s fifth seeds Vitor Felipe/Evandro Oliveira and Poland’s 12th seeds Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel on Wednesday, the 28th-seeded Hyden/Bourne, who had advanced to the Main Draw by winning a lucky losers draw thanks to the withdrawal of Brazilian tandem Ricardo Santos/Alvaro Filho, went on to beat Kazakhstan’s Alexey Sidorenkoo/Alexandr Dyachenko 2-0 (21-16, 21-16) to finish atop of pool E with a clean sheet.
“It’s great, but we are not satisfied, we got the whole tournament to go,” said Hyden, who made three aces in the second set against Kazakhstan. “So sitting in ninth, we are happy right now, but we want to do the best we can here.”
Having already secured their best finish at any World Tour event, the Americans were ready for even tougher challenge ahead.
“We have to take one step at a time. We want a medal, just like everybody else. Sitting at ninth, we can get some rest, and every match is going to be a tough match, and it can go either way,” Hyden added.
Brazil’s Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt, the silver medal winners behind Nicola/Lupo at the season-opening Fuzhou Open last week, suffered their second surprising loss in two days against Germany’s 11th seeds Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik 2-0 (21-19, 21-16), but still advanced to the knock-out stage as third finishers from pool F with an 1-2 record.
The men’s elimination round of the first Grand Slam event of the season will start Friday morning with the women’s pool play to continue. The 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar features a record purse of US$10.2 million with a season that extends from late April to mid-December competing at 21 venues in 18 countries. This year’s FIVB World Tour includes a record 10 FIVB Grand Slam events, the inaugural Grand Slam Finale and 11 FIVB Open Tournaments throughout the world, helping expand the door for development of the sport even further.
The 10 FIVB Grand Slam competitions, all double-gender, have eight with $800,000 in total purses while both The Hague, Netherlands and the Long Beach, Calif., USA event will have $1 million each in prize money, the most in FIVB Grand Slam history.