Alexander Brouwer (rigfht) slaps "five" with Dutch partner Robert Meeuwsen during his team's second win Thursday at the Rio Open.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 18, 2017 - Could it be a second-straight Rio podium where the three teams that medaled at last summer’s Olympic Games finish atop the FIVB World Tour event standings here this weekend at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca.
Led by 2016 Olympic champions Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil and fellow Copacabana Summer Games medal winners Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai of Italy and Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands, eight teams from six countries won two matches each at the US$300,000 Rio Open to win their pools and advance to Friday’s second-round of elimination with “byes”.
The second-seeded Alison and Bruno, who defeated Lupo/Nicolai for the Olympic gold medal last August after defeating Brouwer/Meeuwsen in the semi-finals, was one of three Brazilian teams to win their pool Thursday. The FIVB’s most dominant team over the past three seasons, Alison and Bruno defeated pairs from Israel and Italy to capture the Pool B title.
Seeded ninth in Pool G, Lupo and Nicolai defeated pairs from Poland and Norway to capture their group. The fourth-seeded Brouwer and Meeuwsen was extended to three sets in each of their match victories over tandems from host Brazil and the United States in Pool D.
Other Brazilian pool winners were top-seeded Alvaro Filho/Saymon Barbosa (Pool A) and fifth-seeded Gustavo "Guto" Carvalhaes/Pedro Solberg (Pool E). Alvaro and Saymon captured the season’s first FIVB World Tour event in February by topping the podium at the Fort Lauderdale Major in the United States.
Other Beach Volleyball pairs securing group titles Thursday were seventh-seeded Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera Spain (Pool G), 11th-seeded Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb of the United States (Pool F) and 19th-seeded Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst of Austria (Pool C). Both the Spanish and Austrians placed ninth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Friday’s schedule opens with the final pool play matches for men and women with the afternoon schedule featuring two rounds of elimination bracket matches to set the schedule for Saturday quarter- and semi-final confrontations. The medal matches will be played Sunday with the winning teams in each gender’s competition with win the gold medals and the $20,000 first-place prizes.
Following the Rio Open, the next stop on the FIVB World Tour will be May 31-June 4 in Moscow for a three-star event in the Russian capital. Highlighting the 2017 international calendar for men and women Beach Volleyball players will be the $1-million FIVB World Championships July 28 through August 6 in Austria and the $800,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals August 23-27 in Hamburg, Germany.