Lucena and Doherty partnership taking shape on way to Moscow main draw
The USA duo were up against Venezuela’s Igor Hernandez and Jesus Villafane in qualifying, but made it through to the main draw that starts on Thursday with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-13) victory.
“I thought we played well,” Lucena said. “Hernandez was injured so we took advantage of that and that’s fortunate for us and unfortunate for them and we hope he gets better. It is always good to get into the main draw.
“These teams are the best in the world and we could easily have lost it. I’m not taking anything for granted and we’ll try and see if we can do well.”
Moscow is only their third tournament together having played Sao Paolo in 2013, where they reached the quarterfinals and the Shanghai Grand Slam earlier in 2014.
In fact for Doherty it is only his second year on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.
He played most of the 2013 season with former Olympic and world champion Todd Rogers, after he moved to beach volleyball having previously played a high level of baseball.
“He’s got a lot of potential,” Lucena said. He’s seven feet (214cm), athletic and he’s gotten a lot better than last season and I think he will improve more and just needs more experience and I think we can get better.”
Lucena and Doherty were one of eight teams to reach the main draw and they will be joined by Philip Gabathuler and Mirco Gerson, who Italian twins Paolo and Matteo Ingrosso 2-0 (21-17, 21-17).
Last time the Swiss were in Russia was for the Anapa Open two weeks ago and it proved a good week for them as they finished with the bronze medals, their first ever podium finish at a World Tour event.
“It is always good to win, especially if you are in a Grand Slam qualify tournament,” Gabathuler said. “The first job is done and we have to keep going tomorrow. We’ve enjoyed Russia this year and I hope it continues tomorrow and in the other day.”
The home fans also had something to cheer as Serguei Prokopiev and Grigoriy Goncharov won through with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) victory against Germany’s Sebastian Dollinger and Lars Fluggen.
“It is our fifth World Tour tournament and we had luck with on our side today,” Prokopiev said. “We were a reserve team for this tournament and we are happy to play and just thankful for this chance.”
The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Moscow Grand Slam runs from Wednesday, June 11 through to Sunday June 15. It is the sixth event and the second Grand Slam on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar, which features nine Grand Slams and 11 Open tournaments.
The 2014 World Tour began at the Fuzhou Open in China in April and concludes at the Durban Open in South Africa in December. Next up on the World Tour calendar is the Berlin Grand Slam which runs from June 17-22.