Russian pair claim first World Tour gold in Moscow
Both teams were going for their first ever Grand Slam gold medals, but it was the Russian duo who made history by beating the Polish pair 2-0 (23-21, 21-17) in a match in which Semenov was a dominant presence at the net and Krasilnikov a bundle of energy in defence.
“We can’t believe we’ve won,” Semenov said. “Our volleyball federation’s president’s birthday was today so this is our present for him. We were so pleased with our support as that helped add another 50 percent to our performance.
“We had special tactics for this team and we were at our physical best and now feel like we can do anything right now. When we beat the Italian team (Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai) it gave us the confidence to believe that we can beat anybody.”
Semenov and Krasilnikov completed their dream run in which they knocked out the World Tour champions Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs in the quarterfinals and newly-crowned European champions Nicolai and Lupo in the semifinals.
The result improves their previous bests of silver at the 2013 Berlin Grand Slam and two weeks ago at the Anapa Open and they impressed on their way to the gold medals with some impressive play between the 208cm-tall Semenov at the net and Krasilnikov behind him.
“We said wanted to match our fifth place from last year and maybe improve on it and we have improved on it in the best way possible,” Krasilnikov added. “We played it point by point against everybody.”
Fijalek and Prudel have been among the leading sides on the World Tour for a number of years, but despite winning a number of silver and bronze medals, they have been unable to reach the top of the podium.
They won their most recent medals at the 2013 Hague Grand Slam, when they finished third. In total they previously held two World Tour silvers and three bronze and now the Moscow silver is their first medal of 2014.
“We had tactics for the Russians, but they played very well and so were able to beat us” Fijalek said. We don’t know what happened. We are really happy for the Russians because they played really well.”
Dalhausser and Rosenthal win three-setter for bronze
Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal opened their World Tour account for 2014 by winning bronze with victory over Nicolai and Lupo.
The USA pair held off the Italian team’s fightback in the second set to win 2-1 (21-19, 15-21, 15-11).
“It was a hard match and was all about serving,” Dalhausser said. “Whoever served best would win the points and we served really well in the final set so that is probably why we won.
“We had one bad match this week and that was the semifinal, but other than that we played really well."
The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Moscow Grand Slam ran from Wednesday, June 11 through to Sunday June 15. It was 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.