Xiamen, China, April 16, 2016 - Spain’s seventh seeds Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira scored two come-from-behind victories in the men’s semifinals and final on Saturday to win the title of the $150,000 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Xiamen Open.
Herrera/Gavira overcame a sluggish start to rally past the United States’ fifth seeds John Hyden/Tri Bourne 2-1 (14-21, 21-19, 15-12) for their second World Tour gold medal together.
Going down tamely in the first set during which the Americans dominated on back of high quality serving of Bourne, the Spaniards fought back strongly in the second, jumping to a 7-3 lead and held it to 20-17. Hyden scored one point and Bourne added an ace to pull within 20-19, only to find Gavira level one set back for his team with a smash.
In the tiebreaker, Herrera/Gavira managed to build up a 7-4 lead again and went on to improve to 14-10. Hyden/Bourne beat off two match points to force the Spaniards to call a time-out. After the game resumed, Herrera made a storming kill to wrap up the match in 46 minutes.
“They started perfect on service and block and it’s impossible for us,” said Herrera after improving the head-to-head record against Hyden/Bourne to 3-0. “We just waited for our chance and in the second set we took it. We played better side out and defense and we won.”
“The first set was really bad for us,” Gavira echoed. “Bourne served really well, we could not make it and we talked about thinking the second set, relax and receive better, that was the key. In the third set, Pablo took some blocks, it was amazing for us.”
On Saturday morning, Herrera/Gavira also needed to come from one set down to beat fourth seeds Konstantin Semenov/Viacheslav Krasilnikov of Russia 2-1 (19-21, 21-16, 15-10) in the first semifinal match. “Yeah, we are always ready to fight for three sets,” Herrera added.
With the well-earned triumph in the Xiamen Open, Herrera/Gavira also split the top prize of $11,000 and 500 points and moved one step closer to the qualification of the Rio Games. “We are almost there. We are on our way,” Herrera said.
“We are very happy. Tomorrow we’ll have a train for Fuzhou, so we have to enjoy the moment, relax and tomorrow we’ll think about another tournament,” Gavira added.
Earlier on Saturday, Mexico’s ninth seeds Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen beat fourth seeds Konstantin Semenov/Viacheslav Krasilnikov of Russia in straight sets 21-15, 24-22 to take home the bronze medal.
The second set was hotly contested and the Mexicans withstood two set points to go up 22-21 thanks to an ace by Virgen. Then Virgen made a serving error to allow the Russians level it at 22-all while Krasilnikov drove two shots out in a row to handle the bronze medal to Ontiveros/Virgen.
With the victory in 37 minutes, Ontiveros/Virgen also improved their head-to-head record against the Russian duo to 4-1.
“The Russian team is very good and we just tried to do better,” said Ontiveros. “We are happy with the bronze medal because it gave us the points we need on the Olympic ranking.”
The double-gender Xiamen Open is to conclude on Sunday with the women’s medal round matches and the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour will continue next week in Fuzhou.
• Xiamen Open - Women