Vienna, Austria, August 4, 2018 - It has been a long week in the Austrian capital for Cherif Samba and Ahmed Tijan as the 23-year old Qataris have won six-straight Beach Volleyball matches over a five-day period to become the first men’s team from the Asian Volleyball Confederation to reach the semifinals at a Beach Major Series event.
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To complicate the start of their week for the US$600,000 A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch, Cherif and Ahmed Tijan arrived late Monday after playing last week in Tokyo where the Qataris placed fifth after losing to eventual champions Esteban and Marco Grimalt of Chile to finish the Japanese FIVB World Tour events with a 3-2 match mark.
The 24th-seeded Cherif and Ahmed Tijan started competing in the 13th Beach Major Series event in the qualifier and reached the “final four” by defeating teams from Austria and the United States here Saturday to reach their second semifinal in 14 FIVB World Tour events together.
With qualifying wins Tuesday and Wednesday, Cherif and Ahmed Tijan won their pool with victories Thursday and Friday to advance to Saturday’s elimination rounds were the Qataris posted “knockout” triumphs over 31st-seeded Martin Ermacora/Moritz Pristauz-Telsnigg of Austria 2-0 (21-13, 21-13) in 38 minutes and 13th-seeded qualifiers Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb of the United States 2-0 (21-11, 21-18) in 33 minutes.
"We came straight from Japan, played on qualification and our confidence just kept growing,” said Cherif, who placed ninth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Jefferson Santos Pereira. “The fifth-place we took there was disappointing for us, but we knew it would be a different tournament here, with all the best teams in the world. We had big wins against a tough team from Russia and then Doppler and Horst and that got us on fire. Also, we are better used to warmer temperatures than the other teams, so maybe that makes some difference."
Joining the Qataris in the Sunday’s first semifinal matches will be 14th-seeded Michal Bryl/Grzegorz Fijalek of Poland and fifth-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands and third-seeded Anders Mol/Christian Sorum of Norway, who eliminated eighth-seeded Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst of Austria in Saturday's final match.
Before the Dutch seek their fourth FIVB World Tour win over the Norwegians in as many meetings, Cherif and Ahmed Tijan will be challenging Bryl and Fijalek for the second-time on the FIVB World Tour. The Qataris defeated the Poles in a three-set quarterfinal match March 8 at the Doha Open.
All three of Brouwer and Meeuwsen's wins over Mol and Sorum have been this season at events in The Netherlands, the United States and the Czech Republic with the last two matches being three-setters.