Fort Lauderdale, USA, March 4, 2018 - Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins forgot about their semifinal setback on Saturday evening and the Latvians rebounded here on Sunday morning to win the bronze medal at the $600,000 Fort Lauderdale Major by defeating Brazilians Pedro Solberg and George Wanderley in two sets.
In the next to last match in the seven-day international beach volleyball tournament for both men and women at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, the 12th-seeded Samoilovs and Smedins posted a 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) bronze medal win in 42 minutes over ninth-seeded qualifiers Solberg and George. The Latvians split $20,000 for placing third while Solberg and George shared $16,000 for their fourth-place finish.
Latvian Olympian Janis Smedins (left) blocks against Brazil's George Wanderley
“We were disappointed with our play last night,” said Smedins, who captured the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games with Martins Plavins. “The semifinal was our first match under the lights on centre court and I have a difficult time seeing the ball. The Americans (Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena) played great in the match and we were not at our best. Despite that match, we had a very good tournament and we are very pleased with this finish.”
Before losing to Dalhausser and Lucena 2-0 (21-14, 21-12) in a 37-minute semifinal match on Saturday, Samoilovs and Smedins posted elimination wins over sixth-seeded Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil (21-17, 21-16) in 33 minutes and third-seeded Piotr Kantor/Bartosz of Poland 2-1 (12-21, 21-13, 15-10) in 43 minutes.
The Latvians' only other setback in the Fort Lauderdale Major was a 2-0 (21-16, 21-12) pool play match to fifth-seeded Italians Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai, the Rio 2016 Olympic silver medal winners. Lupo and Nicolai will play Dalhausser and Lucena for the gold medal after defeating Solberg and George in Saturday’s semifinals 2-0 (24-22, 25-23) in 52 minutes. The Italians also defeated Samoilovs and Smedins last August on Latvian sand in Jurmala for the 2017 European continental title.
“Even in our most successful years we never got a medal in our first tournament of the season,” Samoilovs said after Sunday’s match. “It was super important for us to start right from the first tournament. I am happy; it proves that we are considered where we should be right now. Now we are the third best team in the world; we lost to both finalists. We lost to Italy and yesterday to the Americans.”