Vienna, Austria, August 5, 2018 - After losing five months ago to Cherif Younousse/Ahmed Tijan on the Arabian Peninsula at the Doha Open, Michal Bryl and Grzegorz Fijalek avenged the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour quarterfinal setback to the Qataris by posting a two-set semifinal victory here on Sunday mid-day at the $600,000 A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch.
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Seeded 14th in the third Beach Major Series event on the 2017-2018 FIVB World Tour calendar, Bryl and Fijalek posted a 2-0 (21-15, 21-17) win in a 42-minute semifinal match over Cherif and Ahmed Tijan. On March 8 in Doha, the home-standing Cherif and Ahmed Tijan scored a 2-1 (15-21, 21-16, 15-10) win over Bryl and Fijalek and Bryl to advance to Qatari final four.
“It was a tough game,” said the 31-year-old Fijalek, who is the oldest player among the eight participating players on Sunday in the Vienna Major. “We lost to them in Doha earlier this season and we knew it would be hard again. We’ve been playing very well since our first game in this tournament and we’ve been getting better and better. I hope we can keep this level to the final. We are very tired, but we’ll keep fighting.”
The 23-year-old Bryl, who suffered a cut on his nose in the match with Qatar that stopped the contest for several minutes, said: "I don’t know what happened, I didn’t get hit in the face by the Mikasa. It was a cut at the top of my nose that started bleeding.”
With the average age of Sunday’s final four finalists being 25.5 years, Bryl and Fijalek had to wait longer than usual to learn their gold medal opponent as the Vienna Major’s second semifinal match between third-seeded Anders Mol/Christian Sorum of Norway and fifth-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands was delayed an hour due to threatening weather conditions.
Once the competition restarted at 3 pm (local time), the 21-year-old Mol and 22-year-old Sorum won their 11th straight FIVB World Tour match with a 2-0 (21-18, 21-18) semifinal win in 42 minutes over 28-year-old Brouwer and 30-year-old Meeuwsen.
Anders Mol of Norway (left) hits against Alexander Brouwer (centre) as Dutch partner Robert Meeuwsen follows the action.
"We really wanted to beat the Dutch today," said Mol after the match. They're such a strong team and they've been our idols for a long, long time. We really wanted to check them off our list. There was no better occasion to do that. They serve really tough but we found a good rhythm, didn't make many mistakes and took advantage of the chances we had."
Due to the delay caused by the weather, the Vienna Major gold medal match will be the first podium placement match with a schedule start a 5:30 pm (local time) with the bronze medal match to follow. The winning team will share the $40,000 first-place prize as the final match will be the 51st all-European finale in the 405-event history of the FIVB World Tour.
With the Vienna Major being the 13th event in the Beach Major Series that started in 2015, Poland will be looking for its first gold medal after placing second twice. Poland’s Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak dropped previous Major title matches to Brazilians Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Salgado in 2015 at Stavanger, Norway, and last July to Americans Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena in Switzerland.
During the delay in competition, players from Norway and Qatar had time to visit with 2001 FIVB world champion Mariano Baracetti, who won the prestigious title 17 years ago to the day in Klagenfurt with Martin Conde as the Argentineans defeated Brazilians Ricardo Santos and Jose Loiola in the finale on August 5.
Norway's Christian Sorum (left) and Anders Mol (right) pose with Qatar's Cherif Younousse (second from left) and Mariano Baracetti.