Top seeds Koekelkoren/Van Walle survive marathon set to make top 16 at Qinzhou Open
Dries Koekelkoren (right) was attacking.
Koekelkoren/Walle squandered a five-point lead before clinching the opening set in the first round of the single elimination tournament.
“(We survived) by fighting hard and working hard,” said van Walle. “I think we started well, but then at 16-11 we made some mistakes and they made some good blocks, and then we brought ourselves into trouble. You see those guys can also play very well and we made our lives difficult. But in the end, we were able to get it done as a team.”
The hot weather in Qinzhou was also quite a challenge for the Belgians. “I think we were trying to play aggressively, with good mentality and fighting spirit. But with this heat, it's really hard to keep the level of aggressivity high. It's a pity about the late part in the first set, but we stayed tough and won the first set. If we have to play three sets in these circumstances, it will be really hard.”
Second seeds Pereira Jefferson Santos and Cherif Younousse of Qatar joined Koekelkoren/Walle in the men’s top 16 after ousting Austria’s Florian Schnetzer and Daniel Mullner 2-0 (21-15, 21-14).
Third seeds Nadir Diaz Gomez and Bayard Sergio Reynaldo of Cuba posted an easy 2-0 (21-13, 21-16) win over Turkey’s Murat Giginoglu and Hasan Huseyin Mermer while Mexico’s fourth seeds Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros breezed past Kensuke Shoji/Yusuke Ishijima of Japan 2-0 (21-15, 21-14).
Li Zhuoxin and Zhou Chaowei of China also cruised into the second round after brushing aside Japanese duo Junki Hatabe and Hitoshi Murakami 2-0 (21-14, 24-22). Li, who had his wedding ceremony a week ago, was more than pleased with the opening win.
“I have been preparing for my wedding in the last month and yesterday afternoon I had my first training in four weeks, so I am very satisfied with the win,” said Li. “At the start of the match, I could not find the rhythm. As the game went on, I felt more and more comfortable.”
Li was also happy to finish the match in two sets. “It would be really hard to play the third set in the heat.”
Quick links - Beach volleyball:
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