World Tour champs make perfect start in Moscow
The Latvians faced Australia’s Isaac Kapa and Christopher McHugh in their final pool match and with both teams having won their previous two fixtures they knew that whoever won would top the group and go straight to the second elimination round.
Both teams pushed each other hard, but in the end it was Samoilovs and Smedins that won, 2-0 (21-10, 22-20).
“I feel great,” Samoilovs said. “How else would I feel after winning three matches in my pool, especially when we play like that? We were down 18-20 and came back to win 22-20 so I’m satisfied.”
Samoilovs and Smedins enjoyed a stellar year together in 2013 and won three tournaments on their way to the World Tour crown.
Their second came in Moscow and while they would love to match that result and retain their World Tour title this year, they are not taking anything for granted.
“There are a lot of good teams here and the level in the last few years has grown so high,” Samoilovs said.
“It is really hard to continue at that level because previously it was only really Brazil and USA, but now in Europe there are at least 10 strong teams as well. Sure we won, we want to win every tournament, but we shall see how it goes.”
Old friends back in business
One of the teams that will be out to topple the Latvians are Bruno Schmidt and Alison Cerutti.
The Brazilians had to go through qualifying, but were soon into their stride in pool play with a win on the opening day. On day two they started with a victory over the USA’s John Hyden and Tri Bourne before defeating reigning FIVB Beach Volleyball World Champions Robert Meeuwsen and Alexander Brouwer to top their pool.
“We started in the qualifiers and that is never easer even if we were ranked number one because there was a lot of pressure on our shoulders,” Bruno said. “It has been a pretty good start though, we kept our focus and I can see that we are improving every match.
“It was a good match against the Dutch guys and also this morning we had a pretty stressful match against the USA guys. It was really hard and went to a tie-break and then we came back.”
Bruno was half of the team, along with Pedro Salgado, who finished second behind Samoilovs and Smedins in 2013, but he teamed up with 2011 World Tour winner Alison at the start of the year before the start of the World Tour.
“We started beach volleyball together eight years ago in Vitoria, so I can’t be happier,” he said. “I hope we continue playing as we are now, with a good relationship and a good rapport in the match. I’m having a great time playing with my friend Alison.”
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 that 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.