Raisa Schoon against Tanja Huberli in Doha

One of the most exciting weekends in international beach volleyball lies ahead with the grand finale of the inaugural Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour set to begin on Thursday. Over four competition days, from January 26 to 29, the best teams in the world will battle for a historic title and their share of the USD 800,000 prize purse at the Finals in Doha.

In each gender, the 10 participating teams are split into two single round robin pools of five. The pool winners will advance directly to Sunday’s semifinals, while the pool runners-up will play against the third-placed teams in Saturday’s cross-pool quarterfinals.

· Watch all matches at the Beach Pro Tour Finals in Doha live on Volleyball TV.

Women’s Pool A

The women’s Pool A centre court opener will see Canadian wild cards Sarah Pavan and Sophie Bukovec make their international debut. 2019 world champion Pavan and 2022 World Championship silver medallist Bukovec will test their new partnership against Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallists Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho Del Solar of Australia on Thursday at 14:00 local time (11:00 UTC). Later that day, at 19:00 (16:00), the number one team in the world, reigning world champions Eduarda Santos Lisboa (Duda) and Ana Patricia Ramos of Brazil will start their campaign with a match against USA’s Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss.

Starting at 14:00 (11:00) on Friday, one of the highlights of the second day will offer a remake of the Kusadasi Challenge final in May and a chance for Clancy and Mariafe to get back at Nuss and Kloth for the loss they suffered in Türkiye. Pool A action will close on Saturday with Duda and Ana Patricia taking on Anastasija Samoilova and Tina Graudina, and Pavan and Bukovec up against Nuss and Kloth at 14:00 (11:00).

Women’s Pool B

Switzerland’s Nina Brunner and Tanja Huberli and Germany’s Cinja Tillmann and Svenja Muller will be the first teams to play on centre court at the Finals. Their Pool B fixture will get the tournament underway on Thursday at 13:00 (10:00). The most anticipated match in that pool will take place on Friday at 18:00 (15:00), when Brazil’s Barbara Seixas and Carol Solberg meet Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon of the Netherlands. It will be a remake of the first-ever Beach Pro Tour final at the Tlaxcala Challenge in March, which the South Americans won. It will also be a duel between teams two and three in the World Ranking.

Wild cards Sara Hughes and Kelly Cheng of the United States are the fifth team in Pool B. After reuniting late in the 2022 season, the two Americans are yet to lose a set on the Beach Pro Tour after they won their first two tournaments, the Challenge and the Elite16 events in Torquay. They will try to keep that record going as they open their Pool B campaign in Doha with a game against Stam and Schoon on Thursday at 13:00 (10:00) and finish it against Tillmann and Muller on Saturday at the same time.

Men’s Pool A

Men’s Pool A features a very solid line-up of teams, including the top-seeded home pair of Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan, who share the number two spot in the World Ranking, as well as numbers four and five in the world, Andre Stein and George Wanderley of Brazil and Michal Bryl and Bartosz Losiak of Poland, respectively. The first clash between two of those teams will take place on Thursday at 20:00 (17:00) when the Brazilian 2022 World Championship bronze medallists take on the Polish duo, who won as many as four gold medals on the 2022 Beach Pro Tour.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medallists from Qatar will take on George and Andre on Friday at 20:00 (17:00), and play Bryl and Losiak in their last pool match on Saturday at 16:00 (13:00) on centre court. At the same time on Saturday, the other two teams in Pool A - Marco Grimalt and Esteban Grimalt of Chile, and Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri of Italy – will face each other on court 2.

Men’s Pool B

Top favourites Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway, reigning Olympic and world champions, will start their Doha campaign with a game against Czechia’s Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner on Thursday at 21:00 (18:00). The last time the current number one and number six in the world met was in the Ostrava Elite16 final in May. Before that, they locked horns in the final of the last edition of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals in October 2021. On both occasions, the Norwegians celebrated the victory.

Friday’s Pool B programme will open at 15:00 (12:00) with a game between Mol and Sorum and Brazil’s Renato Lima and Vitor Felipe, who will try to get back at the Beachvolley Vikings for losing the World Championship final in Rome. Then, in a remake of the Paris Elite16 final in October, which the Norwegians also won, the Vikings will meet the number two team in the World Ranking, Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands, at 21:00 (18:00). This pool also features Italy’s Paolo Nicolai and Samuele Cottafava, who will return to Doha after reaching the final of the May 2022 Challenge event in the Qatari capital.