Solid quarterfinal lineup shapes up in men’s tournament

Many of the favourites knocked out of contention in Doha

Lower-seeded pairs upset some of the favourites as the men’s quarterfinal match-ups at the Katara Beach Volleyball Cup 4-star tournament were shaped up by Wednesday’s action. Still, a solid lineup of strong teams remained among the last eight to set the stage for further spectacular battles on Qatari sand.

Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins’s presence among the quarterfinalists can hardly be considered a surprise, but the 15th-seeded Latvians did knock out seventh-seeded Italians Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo with an emphatic 2-0 (21-12, 21-18) shutout.

“It was a nice game and we are very happy that we advanced to the quarterfinals. The Italians are a very uncomfortable opponent for us, but we had a really good strategy from our coach. He completely changed the way we’ve played against them before and it worked really well. We are well prepared and tomorrow we need to keep our level and fight for every point. This year is special and we have a long way to qualify for the Olympics, so every ranking point is important,” Samoilovs said. “For every athlete a competition is like a dessert after the months of hard work we put in.”

“It’s amazing! We were waiting for this and I hope from Doha the only way is up. We want to compete,” Smedins added. “Every team comes out on the court wanting to win and in the end of the day, it’s about who shows the best performance.”

Brazil’s Evandro Goncalves and Guto Carvalhaes stopped the quest of Swedish teens David Ahman and Jonatan Hellvig with a dramatic 2-1 (18-21, 21-13, 16-14) turnaround in the eighthfinals to go up against Samoilovs and Smedins on Thursday.

American legends Nick Lucena and Phil Dalhausser rebounded from Tuesday’s tough defeat in their pool with three straight-set victories in a row on Wednesday, including a 2-0 (21-19, 21-17) upset of second-seeded Germans Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler.

The US team will now have to play against Christiaan Varenhorst and Steven van de Velde, who also compiled three wins in one day, but had to persevere through a three-set battle in every single one of them. They took a 2-1 (21-14, 18-21, 16-14) win over Qatar’s Saifeddine Binaziz Elmajid and Benlouaer Ziad Ziad for the third place in Pool B. Then they managed a 2-1 (18-21, 21-19, 15-13) comeback against Mexico’s Jose Luis Rubio Camargo and Josue Gaston Gaxiola Leyva in the first round. In an all-Dutch eighthfinal match with sixth-seeded Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, Varenhorst and Van de Velde grabbed a hard-fought 2-1 (23-21, 26-28, 15-12) victory to progress to the quarters.

Van de Velde’s spectacular save in the eighthfinal against his compatriots

Third-seeded Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Alvaro Morais Filho were stunned by Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak with a 2-1 (16-21, 21-17, 15-5) turnaround. However, the Poles failed to extend their winning run into the eighthfinals as fourth-seeded Americans Taylor Crabb and Jacob Gibb knocked them out with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-16) defeat.

In the highest-profile quarterfinal, Crabb and Gibb will meet top-seeded world champions Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Viacheslav Krasilnikov of Russia, who overcame the tough resistance of Dutch qualifiers Jasper Bouter and Ruben Penninga on the way to a difficult 2-1 (24-22, 15-21, 15-8) victory.

Czechia’s Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner stayed on the winning track with a straight-set win over Chile’s Marco Grimalt and Esteban Grimalt, while home favourites Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan of Qatar shut out Spanish standouts Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira and get to face the Czechs for a spot in the semis.

Cherif celebrates

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