DOHA, Qatar’s Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan scored a fine win over French qualifiers Quincy Aye and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat in their second Pool ‘H’ match to advance to the knockout round of the 4-Star Katara Beach Volleyball Open on Tuesday .
The eighth-seeded Qatar pair lost their morning match to Ukrainian qualifiers Iaroslav Gordieiev and Sergiy Popov 21-17, 13-21, 10-15, but they came back strongly against Frenchmen to win 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) in evening at the Katara Village Amphitheatre Central Court.
The other two Qatari teams – Mahmoud Ahmed Esham and Mahdi Badreddin Sammoud, Benlouaer Ziad and Saifeddine ElMajid – failed to make it to the next round as they finished fourth in their respective groups.
Reigning world champions Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Viacheslav Krasilnikov hit their stride early as they won their both matches on the first day of the main draw.
The Russian duo began with a 2-0 (21-14, 21-12) over Qatar’s Benlouaer Ziad and Saifeddine ElMajid and then defeated Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins 2-1 (16-21, 21-16, 15-11). Krasilnikov wrapped up the win over Samoilovs and Smedins with an ace after Stoyanovskiy had brought up the first match ball by dominating at the net.
“It was a really tough game,” Stoyanovskiy said. “They have changed their coach and play differently with more spikes on the second ball. That was a problem for us in the whole match, especially in the first set.
“We found the key to overcome that and we put more pressure on their service to bring them away from the net and that was fruitful for us.”
Stoyanovskiy and Viacheslav enjoyed a stellar 2019 in which they won gold at the Hamburg 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships and ended the season by topping the podium at the Rome 2019 FIVB World Tour Finals.
Since November they have been hard at work in Tenerife, Sri Lanka and the national training centre in Anapa on Russia’s Black Sea coast as they set their sights on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“We are calmer now and we only focus on our game because we know we can beat any team in the world. We proved that last year and we are working to improve every facet of our game.”
Qatar’s Esham and Sammoud lost their first Pool ‘B’ match to Rio Olympic bronze medallists Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands 16-21, 18-21. In the second match also they were beaten by the Netherlands’ Steven Van De Velde and Christian Varenhorst 14-21, 17-21.
Former world champions Bruno Schmidt and Evandro Goncalves also enjoyed a brace of victories on the opening day of pool play. First off, they defeated Belgium’s Dries Koekelkoren and Tom Van Walle 2-1 (12-21, 21-14, 15-9) and then rounded off their day’s work by beating USA’s Stafford Slick and William Allen 2-0 (21-15, 21-17).
“Of course, two victories mean it is a good start, it is what everyone is trying to do,” Bruno said. “The air here is so different to Brazil though. It is more humid there and the ball moves differently here, it floats more.
“Then there is the wind which makes it change even more and affects the speed of the ball. It took us a while to adapt in the first match, but that is beach volleyball and you have to adapt. It is the first tournament of the year and everyone is working to adapt to the different conditions.”
The men-only tournament is running from March 9-13 at Katara Cultural Village. It is the second of nine 4-Star events on the 2019-2020 calendar and the winners will leave with 800 ranking points.
Source: Qatar Olympic Committee