Vienna, Austria, July 31, 2018 - For the third time this season on the FIVB World Tour, the men’s qualification round is being played over a two-day period with the action here on Tuesday featuring the first round matches where 15 of the top 16 seeded teams advance to Wednesday’s mid-day second round.
With the $600,000 A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch being the 38th of 42 men’s international beach volleyball events this season and the final qualifying tournament for the World Tour Finals to be played in Germany from August 14-19, Ahmed Tijan/Cherif Younousse of Qatar kept their hopes alive for the FIVB competition in Hamburg by defeating a team from Denmark in Tuesday’s opening round.
Seeded fifth in the Vienna Major qualifier, Tijan and Younousse posted a 2-0 (21-18, 21-13) won in 33 minutes over 28th-seeded Kristoffer Abell/Daniel Thomsen of Denmark to advance to a Wednesday match against 12th-seeded Mariusz Prudel/Jakub Szalankiewicz of Poland, who posted a 2-1 (19-21, 21-12, 15-13) victory in 46 minutes over 21st-seeded Hasan Mermer/Sefa Urlu of Turkey.
After placing fifth at last week’s Tokyo Open, Tijan and Younousse have currently amassed 3,400 points for their best eight finishes on the FIVB World Tour over the 365-day period from August 9, 2017 through Tuesday. Russia’s Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Igor Velichko currently hold the eighth and final spot on the provisional rankings with 4,120 points.
With seven other teams in the same position as Tijan and Younousse in the chase for Hamburg, the team from Qatar must win the Vienna Major gold medals and hope that Stoyanovskiy and Velichko do not finish higher than 25th in the Austrian capital.
Other teams chasing the Russians for the final spot include Michal Bryl/Grzegorz Fijalek of Poland (3,740 points), Ondrej Perusic/David Schweiner of the Czech Republic (3,620), Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (3,580), Jasper Bouter/Christiaan Varenhorst of the Netherlands (3,400), Grant O'Gorman/Ben Saxton of Canada (3,280), Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst of Austria (3,260) and Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Nikita Liamin (3,120).
Switzerland and the United States are each guaranteed a tandem to advance from the qualifications to Thursday’s opening Main Draw schedule where the 32-team money rounds open with pool play leading to Friday’s elimination bracket phase to set the field for Sunday’s final four matches where the winning pair will split the $40,000 first-place prize.
Gabriel Kissling and Michiel Zandbergen posted Tuesday’s only men’s seed-breakthrough victory as the 18th-seeded Swiss pair posted a 2-0 (23-21, 21-16) win in 37 minutes over 15th-seeded Quincy Aye / Youssef Krou of France. Kissling and Zandbergen will play compatriots Mirco Gerson/Adrian Heidrich on Wednesday at mid-day for a spot in Thursday’s money rounds.
The Swiss have an opportunity for a second men’s team to advance to the Vienna Major Main Draw as ninth-seeded Nico Beeler/Marco Krattiger challenge the eighth-seeded Grimalt cousin of Chile on Wednesday. Esteban and Marco Grimalt had a long journey to get to the Austrian capital on Monday after the Chileans won the Tokyo Open on Sunday for the South American country’s first-ever FIVB World Tour gold medal.
After posting a two-set win on Tuesday over a team from Sweden, Esteban Grimalt said: "It was a tough match for us from a physical standpoint as we played last week in Japan and had a long trip here. The qualifiers are always hard, and it was encouraging that we played at a good level in our first match. We found a good rhythm and will need to keep it against Switzerland. They are a very good team. They missed a few tournaments because Marco (Krattiger) was injured but returned playing really well in the European championships.”
The All-USA match on Wednesday has top-seeded Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb playing 16th-seeded Miles Evans/Billy Kolinske in the first ever international and/or domestic match between the two teams. Crabb and Gibb placed fourth three weeks ago at the Gstaad Major in Switzerland. Evans and Kolinske, who placed 17th in Tokyo last week, have podium placements earlier this season in the Netherlands (Aalsmeer - silver) and Australia (Sydney - bronze).