Moscow, Russia, May 25, 2016 - While the spotlight in the men’s competition focuses on the Brazilian Olympic pairs of Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Solberg, two other teams from the South American country will be battling for men’s podium spots in the US$800,000 Moscow Grand Slam.
With the Alison/Bruno and Evandro/Pedro pairs seeded first and fourth, respectively, in the FIVB World Tour event, the 21st-seeded Vitor Felipe/Alvaro Filho and 25th-seeded qualifiers Andre Loyola/Ricardo Santos have already made a name for themselves this week at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre as the Russian capital hosts the international circuit for the ninth-straight season.
Vitor and Alvaro posted Wednesday’s biggest surprise by defeating 12th-seeded and defending Moscow Grand Slam champions Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera of Spain 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) in a 37-minute Pool E match. It was the second win over the Spaniards for Vitor and Alvaro, who scored a 2-0 (21-16, 2-18) Pool E win in 40 minutes at the mid-March Rio Grand Slam on Copacabana.
Spain vs. Brazil Wednesday
The Brazilian pair concludes group action Thursday against fifth-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst of The Netherlands and 28th-seeded qualifiers Sebastian Fuchs/Stefan Windscheif of Germany. Vitor and Alvaro, who placed ninth in their last international start at the start of May in Fortaleza, Brazil, will be playing both teams for the first-time on the FIVB World Tour.
“It is good to be back playing again on the international tour,” said the 25-year old Alvaro, who placed second at the 2013 FIVB World Championships in Poland with Ricardo and fifth in the 2015 world finals in The Hague with Vitor. “Beating the Spaniards is important because they are one of the top teams in the world. Despite playing only once in the last three weeks, we felt very relaxed and rested in our match today. We have two very tough matches tomorrow, so we have to be ready.”
Vitor and Alvaro placed ninth in the 2015 Moscow Grand Slam by winning three of eight matches. Alison and Bruno eliminated their compatriots from the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre competition with a 2-1 (18-21, 21-17, 15-8) elimination setback in 53 minutes. “It was tough losing to Alison and Bruno last year, but they proved why they are such a good team by coming back after losing the first set,” said Alvaro about the only match between the two teams on the FIVB World Tour.
Playing in their 12th FIVB World Tour event with a fourth-place earlier this season in Maceio for their best international finish together, Victor and Alvaro posted one of three seed-break-through wins Wednesday.
Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik of Germany, who are seeded 19th in the Moscow Grand Slam, posted a 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) Pool C win in 36 minutes over 14th-seeded Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri of Italy while 20th-seeded Lombardo Ontiveros and Juan Virgen of Mexico upset 13th-seeded Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai of Italy 2-1 (17-21, 21-19, 23-21) in a 53-minute Pool D match.
Ontiveros and Virgen are challenging Erdmann and Matysik for the 15th and final Olympic qualifying spot awarded from the FIVB World Tour for the 2016 Rio Summer Games. The Germans hold a 60-point edge over Ontiveros and Virgen (4,490 to 4,430 Rio Olympic ranking points). Both teams can improve their Olympic point totals by winning their group titles Thursday.
Lombardo Ontiveros of Mexico
Andre and Ricardo, who are playing in their first FIVB World Tour event together, posted a pair of qualifying wins Tuesday to advance to the “money” rounds of the Moscow Grand Slam where the Brazilians lost to eighth-seeded Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Konstantin Semenov of Russia 2-0 (21-19, 21-16) in 33 minutes in their first Pool H match Wednesday.
Krasilnikov and Semenov, who captured the 2014 Moscow Grand Slam gold medal in only their sixth FIVB World Tour event together, are seeking to rebound from a 25th-place finish at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre. The Russian pair placed fifth in their first Moscow start together in 2013. It came two weeks after netting the silver medal at the Berlin Grand Slam where Krasilnikov and Semenov lost to Alvaro and Evandro in the finals.
Playing in a pool where the three other teams have compiled for 152 FIVB World Tour starts together, Andre and Ricardo play ninth-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins of Latvia (41st FIVB events together) and 24th-seeded qualifiers Michal Kadziola/Jakub Szalankiewicz of Poland (82nd).
“Obviously, the Russians experience of playing together was a big difference,” said the 41-year old Ricardo, who is playing in his 222nd FIVB World Tour event with 55 gold medal to his credit. “They Russians are a very good team and will be tough to beat playing here this weekend.”
While Ricardo is playing in his 19th full-season on the international tour, the 21-year old Andre is playing in only his ninth FIVB World Tour event with a gold medal finish earlier this month with Oscar Brandao at the Fortaleza Open where the young Brazilians defeated Erdmann and Matysik in the finals.
In one of the oddities of the sport, the legendary Ricardo is playing in his fifth event this season with his fifth different partner. With long-time partner Emanuel Rego retiring at March’s Rio Grand Slam, Ricardo has also teamed with Harley Marques (Maceio) Alvaro (Vitoria) and Allison Cittadin (Fortaleza) at other FIVB events in Brazil.
For the record, Alison/Bruno and Evandro/Pedro won their opening pool play matches Thursday over pairs from Latvia and Greece. In the 2014 Moscow Grand Slam, Evandro and Pedro captured by silver medal after losing to Gavira and Herrera in the finals. Alison and Bruno, who lost 2-0 (21-18, 21-19) in 42 minutes to Evandro and Pedro in the semi-finals a day earlier, placed fourth after losing the bronze match to Erdmann and Matysik.
The Moscow Grand Slam also features women’s competition where Main Draw pool play will conclude Thursday. The elimination matches will be played Friday and Saturday to set the lineup for Sunday’s medal matches. The winning teams will share the $57,000 first-place prizes.