Contrasting fortunes for European champions in Moscow
A week ago they won the CEV European Championships, but started life in Moscow with a loss to Brazil’s Maria Antonelli and Juliana Felisberta. However on Friday they completed pool play with a win against 2013 Moscow gold medallists Maria-Clara and Carolina Salgado that gave then a record of two wins and one loss and that takes them into the first elimination round.
Their male counterparts Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo matched their record, but after beginning with two wins, lost their third to Brazilians Vitor Felipe and Evandro Goncalves when victory would have allowed them to win the group and progress directly to the second elimination round.
Home town delights as Ukolova and Prokopeva progress in Moscow
Russia’s number one female pair Evgenia Ukolova and Maria Prokopeva gave the Moscow crowd much to cheer as they completed pool play with their third win, 2-0 (21-13, 21-14) against Canada’s Jamie Lynn Broder and Kristina Valjas.
The pair recently won silver at the Anapa Open to go with their gold medals on Russia’s Black Sea coast in 2013 and for Ukolova in particular there is particular importance to showing her full potential in Moscow as she hails from the Russian capital.
“Of course it is great to play in Moscow because it is my home town,” Ukolova added. “I have to thank all the fans because today there was a lot of rain and a strong wind but they stayed in the stands and kept cheering us on.”
World Tour champs make perfect start in Moscow
Reigning World Tour champions Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins wrapped up pool play in the best way possible with a straight-sets victory over their pool nearest rivals. 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.”
One of the teams that will be out to topple the Latvians are Bruno Schmidt and Alison Cerutti.
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,” Bruno 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.