Spectacular tie-breakers pave way to Ostrava main draw


Esteban Grimalt of Chile receiving the ball during a crucial match against Turkey

Ostrava, Czech Republic, June 20, 2018 – Following a series of spectacular three-set matches, the main draw line-up in Ostrava is now complete as eight pairs per gender emerged from Wednesday’s qualifications at the Lower Vitkovice industrial heritage site.

Chilean cousins Esteban Grimalt and Marco Grimalt made spectacular comebacks in both of their qualification matches, but after two come-from-behind victories – 2-1 (17-21, 21-8, 15-10) over South Africa’s Dominic Shane Goliath and Leo Williams and 2-1 (14-21, 21-17, 15-8) over Turkey’s Murat Giginoglu and Volkan Gogtepe – they progressed to the main draw.

“These were two difficult games for us, both in three sets. In Itapema we lost to the Turkish team in three sets in a very tough game and now they controlled us very well in the first set. But we did not stop. We kept fighting through to the end and we got the victory. We are so happy and now we are going to rest in order to do our best tomorrow. The venue is incredible, very unusual for our sport, with a lot of history... It’s amazing!”

The same feat was achieved by Dirk Boehle and Steven van de Velde of the Netherlands. The Dutchmen started their day with a 2-1 (13-21, 21-14, 15-10) win over France’s Olivier Barthelemy and Romain Di Giantommaso and followed up with a 2-1 (14-21, 22-20, 15-13) nail-biter against USA’s John Mayer and Trevor Crabb.

Steven van de Velde with a towering block against Trevor Crabb

In fact seven of the eight games in the second qualification round were resolved in tie-breaker sets, with Germany’s Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler, Brazil’s Thiago Santos Barbosa and George Souto Maior Wanderley, Lithuania’s Arnas Rumsevicius and Lukas Kazdailis, Russia’s Konstantin Semenov and Ilya Leshukov and Switzerland’s Adrian Heidrich and Mirco Gerson emerging with the tickets to the main draw.

Austria’s Martin Ermacora and Moritz Pristauz upset the top-seeded team in the qualification line-up, Qatar’s Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan, with a 2-0 (23-21, 21-17) shutout and were the only team that managed to go through the second match in straight sets, but only after a hard-fought 2-1 (24-22, 14-21, 15-11) three-setter against Aliaksandr Dziadkou and Aliaksandr Kavalenka of Belarus earlier in the day.

The unique set-up of the centre court in the Lower Vitkovice industrial heritage site, which was rebuilt as a technical monument and is accessible to the public for educational, cultural, sporting and social activities

On the women’s side, five of the eight last qualification round matches were extended to tie-breaker sets. The one where the tie-breaker itself got extended beyond the 15th point pushed Anastasija Kravcenoka and Tina Graudina into the main draw. In the first round the Latvians cruised to a speedy 2-0 (21-9, 21-9) shutout of Hungary’s Dorottya Szabo and Dominika Hafra, but then had to persevere through three sets of nip-and-tuck beach volleyball before claiming a 2-1 (21-14, 18-21, 16-14) victory over Switzerland’s Nicole Eiholzer and Elena Steinemann.

“Our first qualification match was kind of a warm-up game for us, but the second one was very tough,” Graudina and Kravcenoka commented. “The third set was so close, but we won 16-14 and now we are just so happy that we are in the main draw. It’s wonderful!” 

There were no easy games for Japan’s Azusa Futami and Akiko Hasegawa. They advanced to the main draw after two hard-fought three-set victories. First they managed a 2-1 (21-14, 21-23, 15-11) win over the Czech Republic’s Eliska Davidova and Sara Olivova. Then they battled out a come-from-behind 2-1 (16-21, 22-20, 15-8) victory over Switzerland’s Laura Caluori and Dunja Gerson.

Azusa Futami in defensive action

In the longest match of the first round, Thailand’s Rumpaipruet Numwong and Khanittha Hongpak snatched a 2-1 (21-15, 10-21, 17-15) win over Italy’s Marta Menegatti and Laura Giombini, but in the longest match of the second round, the Thai pair lost to Kim Behrens and Sandra Ittlinger 2-1 (21-11, 19-21, 15-13) letting the Germans through to the main draw.

The other five women’s teams who won all of their games on Wednesday to join the best 32 of the tournament were Poland’s Aleksandra Wachowicz and Jagoda Gruszczynska, Brazil’s Taina Silva Bigi and Victoria Lopes Pereira Tosta, Slovakia’s Andrea Strbova and Natalia Dubovcova, Spain’s Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan and USA’s Emily Stockman and Kelley Larsen.