Espinho, Portugal, July 7, 2018 – Young German hopefuls Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler advanced to the final four of an FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event for the first time as a team. At the Espinho four-star stop, they will face Latvia’s Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs in one of the men’s semifinals on Sunday. In the other, an all-Brazilian clash will entertain the spectators on the Atlantic coast of Portugal.
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The 19th-seeded Germans, who started their road to their first final four from Thursday’s qualifications, overcame three strong opponents in Saturday’s single elimination rounds to progress to the semis. They started their day with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) win over aspiring Serbs Lazar Kolaric and Stefan Basta. Then Thole and Wickler achieved a huge victory over top-seeded American legends Philip Dalhausser and Nicholas Lucena, again in straight sets, 2-0 (21-19, 21-16). But their toughest challenge came from Norway’s Anders Berntsen Mol and Christian Sandlie Sorum, seeded ninth, in the quarterfinals. The match hard-fought battle was extended to three sets with the Germans emerging victorious at 2-1 (21-18, 22-24, 15-13).
“We had a hard day today – three tough matches against very, very good opponents. We had to fight really hard and give our best,” Wickler exclaimed. “The last one was really tough and it was so close. We are just happy and now we have to get our energy back for tomorrow.”
“It was an incredible day today. Tomorrow we have two more games and two more chances. We are really happy that in the last three weeks we have been able to compete with the best teams in the world and that it works so well,” Thole added.
Fourth-seeded Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs, last week’s bronze medallists from Warsaw, made it to the semis after a 2-0 (21-18, 21-14) victory in the all-Latvian quarterfinal against Martins Plavins and Edgars Tocs. Before that, they went past Turkey’s Murat Giginoglu and Volkan Gogtepe with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) shutout.
The silver medallists from Warsaw also progressed to the semifinals. Second-seeded Brazilians Vitor Goncalves Felipe and Evandro Goncalves Oliveira Junior started their day with a difficult encounter with Mexico’s Juan Virgen and Lombardo Ontiveros, but managed to come back from a set down to a 2-1 (18-21, 21-16, 15-11) victory to move on to the quarterfinals, where they mastered a 2-0 (21-19, 21-16) win over Qatar’s Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan.
Their first opponents on Sunday, compatriots Ricardo Alex Costa Santos and Gustavo Albrecht Carvalhaes, who started at Espinho from Wednesday’s country quota matches, had to play three games on Saturday. In the first elimination round they cruised to a 2-0 (21-11, 21-15) shutout of USA’s Miles Evans and William Kolinske. In the second, they upset fifth-seeded Austrians Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst in a 2-1 (21-16, 17-21, 15-12) three-setter, before managing a 2-0 (22-20, 21-16) victory over Canada’s Grant O'Gorman and Ben Saxton in the quarterfinals.