Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 5, 2015 - With the international Beach Volleyball circuit returning to iconic Copacabana beach for the first-time since 2004, the men’s finals for the FIVB World Tour event will feature an All-European match as pairs from Germany and Latvia won three matches each here Saturday to advance to the gold medal at the US$150,000 Rio Open.
The All-European affair was made possible when 10th-seeded Markus Bockermann and Lars Fluggen of Germany put an end to five-straight gold medal finishes by top-seeded Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt by posting a 2-1 (21-16, 13-21, 15-10) win in 49 minutes over the reigning FIVB world champions from Brazil in Saturday’s second-semi-final match.
Third-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins of Latvia started the semi-final success at the Rio Open for Europe by defeating 16th-seeded Saymon Barbosa and Gustavo Carvalhaes 2-0 (21-14, 21-17) in 35 minutes. The young Brazilians were playing in their third FIVB World Tour event while Latvians are the newly-crowned European champions and have been ranked as the top team on the international circuit the last two seasons.
With the Rio Open being the 15th men’s FIVB World Tour event in the Brazilian coastal city, Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann of Germany defeated Athens 2004 Olympic bronze medal winners Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel of Switzerland in the finals. In the previous 13 Rio stops, European pairs had never reached the podium with only fourth-place finishes to the continent’s credit.
“Thankfully, we recovered from an awful second set,” said the 29-year old Bockermann. “Alison just kept blocking me and I did not respond. We won a gold medal earlier this season in China, but this win against the best team in the world is our biggest victory as we won in front of the Brazilian audience. Now, we must recover and defeat the European champions tomorrow.”
Bockermann and Fluggen have already defeated the Latvians this week by posting a 2-1 (13-21, 31-29, 15-13) pool play win Friday in 53 minutes. Earlier this season in the Swiss Major in Gstaad, Samoilovs and Smedins posted a 2-1 (21-17, 19-21, 15-9) pool play win in 45 minutes in the only other FIVB World Tour match between the two teams.
The Germans, who defeated 2013 FIVB world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands for the gold medal in the FIVB’s season-opening event in April at Fuzhou, China, have now defeated the first, third, fourth and sixth-seeded teams in the Rio Open. To reach their second FIVB World Tour semi-final in 10 events together, Bockermann and Fluggen eliminated pairs from Italy and Poland Saturday.
The Latvians, who captured the European championships in August at Klagenfurt, Austria, started Saturday with victories over pairs from Austria and Mexico to advance to their 13th FIVB World Tour semi-final in 32 starts together since the London 2012 Olympic Games where Smedins claimed the bronze medal with Martins Plavins.
Following Sunday’s men’s and women’s medal matches where the winning teams will share the $11,000 first-place prizes, the FIVB World Tour crosses the Atlantic Ocean for a stop in Russia (Sochi, September 8-13) before taking a week off. The international circuit visits China (Xiamen, September 22-27) for the second-time in 2015 after the break with the “elite” teams will be featured September 29-October 4 at the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.