Fuzhou, China, April 25, 2015 – Markus Böckermann/Lars Flüggen from Germany defeated former world champions Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen from the Netherlands to win gold at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Fuzhou Open 2015. The first FIVB tournament of the season also opens the Olympic qualification window for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.
In its third consecutive year, the FIVB Fuzhou Open is the first double-gender FIVB Open event of the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar with a prize purse of US$150,000.
In the final, Böckermann/Flüggen displayed the same gritty determination that has been seen throughout the Fuzhou Open to win gold, beating Brouwer/Meeuwsen 2-0 (21-19, 21-19). Bronze medal went to Youssef Krou/Edouard Rowlandson from France in a turnaround match against USA’s Todd Rogers/Stafford Slick 2-1 (19-21, 21-17, 15-9).German gold
The men’s final was a great spectator match for the crowds at Mianjiang Riverside Park under overcast skies. Both teams began by feeling their way into the match with Böckermann/Flüggen taking an early lead. Brouwer/Meeuwsen quickly adapted to their opponents and closed the gap to make it 15-15.
Böckermann/Flüggen continued to switch up their returns making it difficult for the Dutch pair to predict as the first set went to Germany. The Netherlands never stopped putting on the pressure and it was not going to be an easy victory for Böckermann/Flüggen.
A spectacular German point secured the gold with a massive hit from Flüggen followed by a final tip over the net from Böckermann.
“I can't finds words. It's so awesome. Great victory against the world champions. Our first tournament victory, so you can imagine how we feel,” said Böckermann.
“It was a very close match, I think. It could have been the other way round and the Netherlands won this. There was always a lot of pressure. Finally, we had a little bit more luck, I think,” said Flüggen.
“We wanted to focus on our serves. We knew the centre court is hard, a lot of people are here. It's another feeling playing in the side court, so we focused on our game. Of course, I won't tell you our tactics,” said Böckermann.
In their first tournament as a team, it is also Böckermann’s first FIVB medal seeing a great start to the new season.
“We get a lot of points for the win, I think and it's really important for us. A lot of German teams want to play. This is the best result we could do,” said Flüggen.
Silver for Brouwer/Meeuwsen
Brouwer/Meeuwsen come out of the Fuzhou Open with silver after a troubled 2014 due to injury. In their semifinal against USA’s Todd Rogers/Stafford Slick, the Dutch pair put into play all the skills that made them world champions in 2013. Screaming serves and incredible power across court proves Brouwer/Meeuwsen are truly back in 2015.
“At the moment we’re not really happy because of course it’s disappointing to lose the final but I think the Germans played really well, really strong and they had a lot of pressure on us with the serve, block defence and we couldn’t play like we did the other matches with the pressure with them. In the end it was close, even though we had felt like we didn’t play well. Maybe when we get back to Holland after a long flight, I can be happy with silver medal,” said Brouwer.
“Throughout the rest of the tournament we played really well. I think all the matches except for today was worse than the rest for sure.
“I think it’s a good way to start the tour season. Of course we want to get the first place, but we didn’t but I think this gives us a lot of confidence in the way we play now and it’s going to be a nice season,” said Meeuwsen.
“I think we played really strong, physical, intense, good energy and our goal here was to get a medal so it’s hanging around our neck so I think we should be satisfied but like I said after this final and losing it’s still a little bit of a disappointment,” said Brouwer.Krou/Rowlandson take home bronze
The bronze medal match pitted Frenchmen Krou/Rowlandson against Rogers/Slick. The US team had the upper hand in the first set with flashes of excellence from Slick and outstanding digs as always from Rogers who supported his partner at every moment.
By midway through the second set, Krou/Rowlandson were providing more of a challenge for the US pair and some powerful accurate serving from Rowlandson led the match into the tie break. The third set was a thriller with both teams diving around the four corners of the court. A last Krou tip over the net and the bronze belonged to France 2-1 (19-21, 21-17, 15-9).
“We’re really, really happy. We absolutely don’t know how we came back from the groups because we lost the first two games of the competition and were really down at this point and didn’t know why we weren’t playing our game. So finishing with a bronze medal is like coming out from nowhere,” said Rowlandson.
“Rogers is like, when we were young, he is the American digger. We came out on the court and didn’t mind if he is double Olympic champion or anything he is just our opponent and we played like just any other opponent. We were just not enough aggressive in the first set and then we start back to find our game true and talking positively,” said Krou.
“This medal means the main draw starts and the beginning of the Grand Slam season and moreover it gives us confidence for the rest of the season and the work we made during the preparation,” said Krou.
The Fuzhou Open is held at the purpose built venue in the city’s Mianjiang Riverside Park. China has hosted a total of 49 FIVB World Tour events and the second Chinese stop on the 2015 calendar will be the double-gender event FIVB Xiamen Open scheduled for September 22 to 27.
The gold medal teams in each gender at the FIVB Fuzhou Open will each split $11,000, the silver $8,000, the bronze $6,000 and fourth place $4,500. The women’s medal matches will be held on Sunday.