Vienna, Austria, August 1, 2018 - It was only a qualifying match, but for the Austrian crowd here on Wednesday afternoon it was the money match as home-standing Robin Seidl and Philipp Waller upset a higher-seeded team from Italy to advance to the men’s Main Draw at the $600,000 A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch.
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With eight men’s teams earning a berth into the Main Draw of the Vienna Major that starts on Thursday with modified pool play matches for 32 teams, the 13th-seeded Seidl and Waller posted a come-from-behind 2-1 (15-21, 21-9, 16-14) victory in 43 minutes over fourth-seeded Marco Caminati/Enrico Rossi of Italy.
Robin Seidl (left) with a Mikasa reception as Austrian partner Philipp Waller follows the action
With the Italians leading 14-11 in the third and deciding set with over 5,000 Austrians cheering them on, Seidl and Waller held Caminati and Rossi scoreless in the closing moments. Waller started and ended the Austrian rally with points, but Rio 2016 Olympian Seidl fueled the comeback with three straight blocks to ignite the patrons.
After the match, Rio 2016 Olympian Seidl said: “Our mindset was to just keep going. We didn’t stress about the score or about losing. We knew we were good and we had a good strategy, so we just kept pushing. Regardless of the score, we just kept playing our game and that’s how we won it. We served Enrico almost the entire third set and Phillipp suggested us to change it to Marco at the end, so we could get him a little bit out of rhythm and it worked. He got stressed with the first block and in the end, he had to go for a shot and we knew it was coming.”
Advancing as expected were top-seeded Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb of the United States, second-seeded Mirco Gerson/Adrian Heidrich of Switzerland, third-seeded Gustavo "Guto" Carvalhaes/Ricardo Santos of Brazil, fifth-seeded Ahmed Tijan/Cherif Younousse of Qatar, sixth-seeded Dries Koekelkoren/Tom van Walle of Belgium, seventh-seeded Grant O'Gorman/Ben Saxton of Canada and the eighth-seeded Grimalt cousins (Esteban/Marco Grimalt) from Chile.
Guto and Ricardo have now won three matches in the Vienna Major, including two qualifying victories over pairs from Lithuania and a Monday’s country quota victory over Brazilian rivals Thiago Santos Barbosa and George Wanderley.
“It was a good test for us,” said the 43-year old Ricardo after the match. “We didn’t have much time to practice yet, so we need to improve our team in the tournaments, step-by-step, and that has been happening. I love playing big events and I have a very positive history in Austria, which is one of the places I like the most. It’s a big event, a very important tournament and I hope we can go as far as we did in Espinho.”
While the men were completing two days of qualifying on Wednesday, the women played two rounds of modified pool play with 24 of the 32 teams advancing to the elimination bracket where the first round will be played on Thursday leading to Friday’s quarterfinals and Saturday’s medal matches where the gold medal winners will share the $40,000 first-place prize. Men’s elimination will be played Friday with the final four matches on Sunday.