Hamburg, Germany, June 11, 2016 - It is unusual for a FIVB World Tour team to have a “day off”, but that was the case for Konstantin Semenov and Viacheslav Krasilnikov as the Russian pair advanced to the semi-finals of the US$800,000 smart Major Hamburg due to a forfeit while teams from Brazil, The Netherlands and the United States had to win quarter-final matches here Saturday at Am Rothenbaum stadium.
With more than 12,000 fans watching the action throughout Saturday where the women’s “final four” matches were played, the 12th-seeded Semenov and Krasilnikov were rewarded with a “free pass” to the men’s final rounds when 16th-seeded Marcus Bockermann and Lars Fluggen withdrew from the competition late Friday afternoon.
According to federation officials from Germany, the withdrawal is more a precautionary move for Bockermann, who had a right knee problem. In April, Fluggen was hampered with knee problems that resulted in surgery as he also forfeited the gold medal match in mid-May at Antalya, Turkey.
Semenov and Krasilnikov’s semi-final opponent Sunday morning will be Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen as the fourth-seeded Dutchmen posted a 2-1 (18-21, 23-21, 15-13) quarter-final win in 51 minutes over ninth-seeded Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira of Spain. The Dutch have won three of the four FIVB World Tour meetings with Semenov and Krasilnikov with three-straight victories.
Quarter-final action featuring Spain vs. The Netherlands
With the win, Brouwer and Meeuwsen also moved into the No. 2 position on the provisional Olympic qualifying list for the Rio 2016 Summer Games ahead of Brazilians Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg. With the smart Major Hamburg being the last Rio qualifying event from the FIVB World Tour, The Dutch have amassed 6,310 points for their best 12 finishes on the FIVB World Tour since the start of the qualifying process in April 2015 with Evandro and Pedro 60 points behind with 6,250 points.
“I did not know that match had an impact on the seeding for Rio,” said Brouwer after the match. “First of all, it is a great feeling to qualify for Rio. Secondly, being one of the top six seeds is tremendous. But right now, I am more concerned about playing Sunday against the Russians. They are playing very well and it will be another tough match like today against the Spaniards.”
The Dutch pair is also looking for another medal at a SWATCH Major Series event. “That was our goal this week,” said Brouwer, who topped the podium with Meeuwsen at the first-ever SWATCH Major event last June in Croatia. “It would be great to start the second season of SWATCH Major events with the year’s first gold medal. It will be tough as all four teams in the semi-finals are among the best in the world.
Sunday’s other semi-final will feature top-seeded and reigning FIVB world champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil against third-seeded Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena of the United States. The two teams will be meeting for the fourth-time on the FIVB World Tour with the Brazilians leading 2-1. Two of the matches have been for gold medals with Alison and Bruno winning both times at the end of the 2015 season.
When asked about playing the Americans Sunday, Bruno said the match is “obviously a tough one like every match here on the World Tour. We expect for sure a very tough match but we’re going to start like concentrated and try to push each other as much as we can. That’s going to be the secret for being successful in this tournament.”
As for posting a 2-1 (21-23, 21-14, 15-8) quarter-final win in 47 minutes over 15th-seeded Juan Virgen and Lombardo Ontiveros of Mexico, Bruno said “they started playing with more energy than us and they also had a lot of luck on some points and had three calls, one double touch by me but I didn’t think it was. As you can see for the second and third set we had more focus and concentration and we finished. When we have a match like this we have to turn around the score. It’s pretty good for motivation to getting stronger.”
In an All-American semi-final, Dalhausser and Lucena scored a 2-0 (22-20, 21-18) win in 44 minutes over sixth-seeded Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson. “They're our fellow US team, they're going to the Olympics and they’re playing at a high level,” said Lucena after the match. “We’ve got to enjoy the moment.”
Patterson said “we didn’t play very well, they played better than us, that’s all it was. They capitalized on balls and we didn’t. We didn’t serve Nick enough and we should have. They played really well and that’s all there was.”
Gibb added “we were playing well and I got a little lax with the lead and for some reason felt comfortable out there and there’s no way you can feel comfortable with how good that team is. I’m going to lose a little sleep over that one but that’s the sport I play.”
American Nick Lucena (left) with a Mikasa reception as Phil Dalhausser follows the action
With the women’s “final four” matches Saturday featuring a Brazil vs. Germany final, the men’s semi-final and medal matches will be played Sunday where the gold medal teams will each share the $57,000 first-place prize for the third of nine “big” events on 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour calendar.
In addition the Hamburg event, other SWATCH Major Series events will be held in Croatia (Porec, June 29-July 3), Switzerland (Gstaad, July 6-10) and Austria (Klagenfurt, July 27-31). The SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals will be held September 13-18 at a site to be determined.
Two of the four FIVB World Tour Grand Slam stops have been completed in Rio de Janeiro (March 8-13 on iconic Copacabana) and Moscow (May 24-29). The final two events will be staged in Poland (Olsztyn, June 14-19) and the United States (Long Beach, August 23-28).