Qatar’s Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan and Norway’s Anders Mol and Christian Sorum became the first two teams to advance to the quarterfinals of the Tokyo 2020 men’s Olympic beach volleyball tournament, by winning the first two round-of-16 matches at Shiokaze Park in Sunday.

In what eventually turned out to be the last match of their international career, 41-year-old Americans Nick Lucena and Phil Dalhausser made a fantastic start in their eighth final match against Cherif and Ahmed and snatched the first set by a wide margin. The second set delivered a fierce battle, which the Qataris won by two points to prompt a decider. They found more energy to persevere through the Tokyo heat in the third set successfully and celebrate with a 2-1 (14-21, 21-19, 15-11) victory.

“Thank god we won this game!” Cherif exclaimed. “We were ready for a long game. We know each other really well. We trained in Orlando with them for about a month and a half. They know us really well. We know them really well. Even in practice, our games are always very long. So I can say we were not expecting an easy game. Now the first step is done. We’re ready for the second step.”

“We always keep on fighting. We play some tactics, but the main goal is to keep on fighting. We never give up. This helped us come back in the second set,” Ahmed added. “We never look at the score. We don’t care about the score. We always focus on the game, always focus on ourselves, not on the opponent or the score. We just have to play well and enjoy the game. It's a pleasure for me to play against Phil and Nick. I really feel this gratitude, but at the end I also want to win. This is my main goal.”

Mol and Sorum celebrate their victory

Mol and Sorum celebrate their victory

In the last match on Sunday’s programme, Mol and Sorum managed to overcome the resistance of Netherlands’ Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen to achieve a straight-set victory, 2-0 (21-17, 21-19), and progress to the next knockout round.

The remaining six matches of this round are scheduled to take place on Monday to complete the quarterfinal line-up.