Fuzhou, China, April 24, 2015 – It was a familiar showdown for Markus Böckermann/Lars Flüggen from Germany that earned them a place in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Fuzhou Open 2015 semifinal. 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.
It was a busy day for the men as the single elimination tournament played three rounds deciding the semifinal positions for April 25. Böckermann/Flüggen, Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen from the Netherlands, Youssef Krou/Edouard Rowlandson from France and USA’s Todd Rogers/Stafford Slick all made it through to the final day of the men’s competition in Fuzhou.
Top seeds Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst from the Netherlands were taken out of the mix after their withdrawal due to an ankle injury sustained by Nummerdor.German derby
Both Böckermann/Flüggen and Sebastian Fuchs/Thomas Kaczmarek from Germany topped their respective pool before each team eased to the quarter finals with two set wins in just over half an hour in the third round. The quarter final that ensued between the two teams was the tightest of the day and a fight to the end.
Böckermann/Flüggen asserted themselves early in the match snatching the first few points, but it soon became clear that the rest of the match would not be as smooth. The two powerful teams played with an understandably similar style and attempts to try and outwit the other seemed impossible.
Fuchs/Kaczmarek came into their own and a Böckermann serve long at set point then made life difficult as the back and forth continued to 24-22 in Böckermann/Flüggen’s favour.
The match continued well for Böckermann/Flüggen until Fuchs/Kaczmarek were suddenly just one point behind before managing to turn the set at the critical point to take the second.
The final set witnessed the same tussle for each and every point with some spectacular rallies, but the well earned semi-final position finally went to Böckermann/Flüggen 2-1 (24-22, 23-25, 15-8).
“We’re feeling awesome it was a big fight, our first tournament together and it was such a big thing to play a really good game against another German team and win,” said Böckermann
“We’ve known them for several years, it’s always difficult to play against when you know them so good because everyone knows what will happen, but we found a good way.
“For sure we wouldn’t enter without a tactic for the game, we needed a lot of service pressure, exactly put the service where we wanted to and it’s easy,” said Flüggen.
“Thomas Kaczmarek did an awesome side-out, he nearly hit every ball to make the point and we had to focus some balls to get some breaks, that worked quite well and we did a good job on the side-out and that was winning,” said Böckermann.
“Fifth game and now our fifth victory so it couldn’t be better,” said Flüggen.
“Of course there are two more games for us, we want to play the best volleyball we can, like now we did the best volleyball, so we just want to play like we did in the last game,” said Böckermann.Nummerdor injured
Top seeded Nummerdor/Varenhorst were forced to retire from the Fuzhou Open after Nummerdor sustained an injury during their second round match against Rogers/Slick. Dutch head coach Gijs Ronnes says Nummerdor was fit entering the tournament and remains optimistic.
“It's an Achilles, calf problem. We don't want to take any risks. We don't know how long it will take to recover. We will go back to Holland tomorrow and find out how serious it is. It's very disappointing, of course. First tournament, we want to do well.
We'll find out next week, then we know more how long it will take to recover. Right now I can't say anything about the rest of the season, about the world championship. We don't have enough information about the injury. We have to do some scans and find out how serious it is,” said Ronnes.
The semi-finals between Böckermann/Flüggen and Krou/Rowlandson followed by Brouwer/Meeuwsen and Rogers/Slick will be decided on April 25.
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 men’s medal matches will be held on Saturday and the women’s medal matches will be held on Sunday.