European teams are ready for a podium sweep in the men’s tournament at this week’s Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge event in Doha as all four duos that remain alive in the fight for medals in Qatar are from the same continent.
Europeans take all four semifinal spots in Doha
Italians, Dutch, Poles and Austrians in contention for gold in Qatar
Published 06:16, 07 May 2022
The last day of competition at the Al Gharafa Beach Courts will start for the men at 11.30 local time / 8.30 GMT on Sunday, with the first semifinal reuniting Poland’s Michal Bryl/Bartosz Losiak and Austria’s Martin Ermacora/Moritz Pristauz. One hour later, Italy’s Paolo Nicolai/Samuele Cottafava and the Netherlands’ Stefan Boermans/Yorick de Groot will clash for the second spot in the final.
The medal matches will be played later in the day, with the semifinal losers meeting for bronze at 19.30 local time / 16.30 GMT and the winners playing for gold at 20.30 local time / 17.30 GMT.
A Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist, 33-year-old Italian Nicolai is seeing his new partnership with the 23-year-old Cottafava start to pay dividends in Doha, where the two players will make their first semifinal appearance as teammates in international beach volleyball.
To do that, the Italians had to win a pair of elimination matches on Saturday, defeating France’s Youssef Krou/Arnaud Gauthier-Rat 2-1 (30-32, 21-16, 15-9) in the Round of 16 and Chilean cousins Marco and Esteban Grimalt in straight sets (21-14, 21-18) in the quarterfinals.
"Making it to the semifinals is really important for us as a new team," Nicolai told Volleyball World. "Good results give us confidence, of course, but right now we're trying to become a better team every day and by advancing we get the opportunity to play more matches at the highest possible level and nothing is more important to a new team than that."
Nicolai/Cottafava vs. Grimalt M./Grimalt E. - Match Highlights
Their semifinal opponents, Boermans and De Groot are yet to lose a match in Doha. The silver medallists of last year’s European Championships, the Dutch made it to their first semifinal on the Beach Pro Tour by being on the right side of a pair of closely-contested matches on Saturday.
The Europeans defeated Canadians Sam Schachter and Dan Dearing 2-0 (21-18, 22-20) in the Round of 16 and returned to the sand a few hours later to top Australians Chris McHugh and Paul Burnett also in two sets (21-17, 22-20) in the quarterfinals.
McHugh/Burnett vs. de Groot/Boermans - Match Highlights
The winners of the season-opening Tlaxcala Challenge, Bryl and Losiak also made it to the semifinals unharmed, with four consecutive two-set victories in Doha. The Polish Olympians kept rolling on Saturday, when they downed Dutch Leon Luini and Ruben Penninga 21-17, 21-17 in the Round of 16 and came back even stronger to take Austrians Robin Seidl and Philipp Waller down 21-15, 21-19 in the quarterfinals.
The other Austrian team standing in their way in Doha, Ermacora and Pristauz were also in excellent form on Saturday, topping Italian Olympians Daniele Lupo and Alex Ranghieri 2-0 (21-18, 21-17) in the Round of 16 and prevailing over Germans Clemens Wickler and Nils Ehlers also in two sets (21-15, 21-19) to secure their spot in the semifinals.
Wickler/Ehlers vs. Ermacora/Pristauz - Match Highlights
The event in Doha is the third Challenge tournament of the Beach Pro Tour inaugural season. The Challenge events represent one of the three levels of the Beach Pro Tour. They are ranked between the Elite16, which feature the highest level of the sport, and the Futures, which offer young, up-and-coming players access to international beach volleyball, and feed into the elite of the sport.