Sochi, Russia, September 10, 2015 – Rio Open champions Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins continued their winning streak with two more straight wins at the FIVB World Tour Sochi Open on Thursday, ending on top in pool B.
Russian youngsters Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin gave the Latvians a hard time in the morning (21-15, 29-27), but in the final pool play match the Latvians eased by England’s Chris Gregory and Jake Sheaf (21-8, 21-14).
The jetlag bothered them a bit in the morning, Samoilovs said. “The form is good, just the acclimatization is a bit hard. Especially today, yesterday was better. But today, the third day, it was physically hard to play. It was hard to wake up in the morning. We had quite an early match. But we got first place in the pool, so now we have more time to recover.”
In the afternoon, against the English, there was time for some entertainment. Samoilovs: “In the beginning we tried our game and everything went like we wanted. Everything we did was perfect. So we just found our rhythm and continued playing. And when everything you do goes as you want, for sure you want to entertain the fans. We have a lot of fans here from Latvia and Russians that are cheering for us. That is nice, so we try to do things for them also.”
But showing off often means trading in points. The Latvians reached their first match point at 20-9, but it took them five more to close the game.
“We just try to do something for the spectators”, Samoilovs said. “We wanted to hit the last ball very hard, but on this side we played against the wind and it was not that easy to get reception. So we were thinking about attack, not reception. But we were ahead a lot and then you can afford to do this.”
Samoilovs is enjoying Sochi. “It’s our first time, but I like it here. It’s sunny, the centre court is, even for qualification matches, full. Because you have people on vacation and it’s nice entertainment for them. And I like centre courts, all over the world, especially when they’re full.”
The main reason for the 2nd seeded Latvians to travel to Sochi though is the Olympic ranking. “Janis had a meniscus surgery right after Moscow, so we missed four big tournaments and now we need the points for Rio. We only have eight tournaments now and we need good results in Opens, because even first place gets you less points then final four or fifth place in a Grand Slam. So we have to play for the maximum in every Open event.”
The same thing applies for USA’s top team Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena. They are a new team and missed some events due to Dalhausser’s oblique injury.
The third seeded Americans booked two more wins on Thursday, over Norway’s Lars Tveit Retterholt and Daniel Bergerud (21-11, 21-14) and Spain’s Marco Francisco Alfredo and Christian Garcia (21-12, 21-16) to top their pool.
Fourth seeded Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai recovered from their loss on Wednesday with wins over Greece’s Georgios Kotsilianos and Nikos Zoupanis (21-16, 21-14) and Poland’s Maciej Kosiak and Maciej Rudol (24-22, 21-17) to top pool C. While local heroes Kontantin Semenov and Viacheslav Krasilnikov won their pool with wins over Aliaksandr Dziadkou and Aliaksandr Kavalenka from Belarus (21-15, 23-21) and Austria’s Peter Eglseer and Daniel Müllner (21-18, 23-21).
Poland supplied two pool winners. Fifth seeded Bartosz Losiak and Piotr Kantor topped pool E and sixth seeded Michal Kadziola and Jakub Szalankiewicz defeated Spain’s Francisco Tomas and Cesar Menendez Ortego 2-0 (23-21, 21-14) and added a 2-1 (21-16, 17-21, 15-13) victory over Kazachs Alexey Sidorenko and Alexandr Dyachenko to win pool F.
“We are very happy, because our last tournament (Rio) was not perfect for us”, Szalankiewicz said. “We lost two games and didn’t play the third because we were already out in the pool.”
The remaining two pool winners are qualifiers Toms Smedins and Ruslans Sorokins (23rd) and Martins Plavins and Haralds Regza (8th), both from Latvia.