The second annual Langkawi Open begins Thursday with qualifying followed by Main Draw play on Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the beach volleyball courts in Malaysia.
Lausanne, Switzerland, April 23, 2018 - The third of three stops in Asia starts Thursday as the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour returns to Malaysia for the second straight season with a men's and women's international beach volleyball event featuring competitors from 29 countries.
After men's and women's qualifying rounds on Thursday, the second annual Langkawi Open continues with the Main Draw starting Friday leading to elimination matches on Saturday and the final four contests on Sunday. With a total of $10,000 in prize money, the winning teams will share the $1,000 first-place prizes.
An archipelago of 104 islands, 30 km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia, Langkawi has hosted the only previous FIVB World Tour events in Malaysia where teams from Cuba and the United States topped the podiums. Host country Malaysia’s best finish in 2017 were a men's fifth-place by Mohd Abd Razak/Rafi Asruki Nordin and four ninth-place finishes for the women.
With new champions to be crowned after Cuban Olympians Nivaldo Diaz/Sergio Gonzalez and Americas Kim DiCello/Emily Stockman captured the 2017 gold medals, a total of 72 teams (37 men’s teams from 21 countries and 35 women’s teams from 21 countries) are entered in the Langkawi Open.
Cuban and American gold medal winners at the inaugural Langkawi Open.
With the Malaysia stop being the 14th men’s and ninth women’s event on the 2018 FIVB World Tour calendar, the tournament will also mark the 381st men’s and the 341st women’s event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour (open, grand slam, Olympic and Goodwill) since the start of competition in February 1987 in Rio de Janeiro.
This month's Asian swing on the 2017-2018 FIVB World Tour calendar started from April 8-11 with a men's and women's stop in Thailand where teams from the host country (Nuttanon Inkiew/Sedtawat Padsawud) and the United States (Caitlin Ledoux/Stockman) topped the Satun Open podium.
This past weekend in China, pairs from Russia (Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Igor Velichko) and Canada (Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan) captured the men's and women's gold medals, respectively, at the $300,000 Xiamen Open.
Playing in their third FIVB event together, the ninth-seeded Stoyanovskiy and Velichko defeated seventh-seeded compatriots Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Nikita Liamin 2-0 (21-18, 21-19) in the first-ever all-Russian gold medal match on the World Tour. Earlier this season, the 21-year old Stoyanovskiy and 22-year old Velichko placed second at the Qatar Open.
“I’m so excited I can’t speak normally, it’s really wonderful, it’s my first gold medal for the World Tour, the previous four medals I got were not as high as this, so I’m very happy also,” said Stoyanovskiy. “This match against our teammates is always very nervous because we know each other very well. We train together, we know the strong sides of each player, so you saw it, it was a little nervous. It’s a very important medal for us because it’s only our third tournament and I can’t believe that we could win a gold medal."
Rio 2016 Olympic and 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship winners Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil defeated Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak for the bronze medal with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-13) win over the Polish Olympians.
In the Xiamen women’s final, the top-seeded Pavan and Humana-Paredes captured their second FIVB World Tour gold medal together by posting a 2-0 (21-19, 21-14) over 22nd-seeded qualifiers Brittany Hochevar and Kelly Claes of the United States.
With the Canadians entering the Xiamen Open by winning the title at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia a week earlier, Claes and Hughes had to win two qualifying matches to earn a spot in the Main Draw as the pair was playing in their first ever FIVB World Tour event together.
“This is what we trained for, our goal for the season was to win more golds and this is one to add to our collection and we’re so happy,” said Pavan. “We had a lot of battles to get us here and after the Commonwealth Games and all the hype, it’s nice to just settle down and compete hard.”
Humana-Paredes said the Xiamen title “means a lot, especially coming from the Commonwealth and winning the gold there, it means a lot for us to prove that we can do it and it wasn’t just a fluke. To have back-to-back gold medals and to be able to play at this level consistently and come out on top, it’s huge for us and that’s what we’re here to prove that we’re here to win.
Mariafe Artacho/Taliqua Clancy of Australia defeated Brazilians Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa 2-0 (21-18, 21-17) for the Xiamen bronze medal. Artacho and Clancy, who finished second at the Commonwealth Games, defeated Claes and Hochevar 2-0 (21-18, 21-16) Thursday in pool play and lost to the Americans 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) in Sunday's first semifinals.
Following the Langkawi Open, the FIVB World Tour returns to the United States at the start of May for an event on a southern California beach in "Surf City" for the $300,000 Huntington Beach Open hosted by the American domestic tour - Association of Volleyball Professionals. The Huntington Beach event will be the second FIVB World Tour stop in the United States this season with the first tournament being in February on the east coast of Florida for a Beach Major Series tournament in Fort Lauderdale.
In addition to the United States stop, the FIVB World Tour will also stage events during the first full week of May in the Turkey ($150,000 Mersin Open, May 2-6, men and women), the Philippines ($10,000 Manila Open, May 3-6, men and women) and Cambodia ($50,000 Anchor Beach Volleyball Carnival 2018 in Phnom Penh, May 4-6, women).