Dutch world champions settle for silver at Xiamen Grand Slam
News from the FIVB
Xiamen, China, October 26, 2013. Alison Cerutti and Vitor Felipe of Brazil rallied past reigning world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands Saturday afternoon to win their first title together at the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Xiamen Grand Slam where three European duos had made the semis. Italy’s Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo settled for bronze after edging another Dutch pair, Jon Stiekema and Christiaan Varenhorst, in the consolation final.
Playing shoulder to shoulder for the second time in a World Tour event, Alison/Vitor beat Brouwer/Meeuwsen 2-1 (18-21, 21-15, 15-13) in 54 minutes in the final of the season-ending Xiamen Grand Slam. Falling behind 5-1 in the tiebreaker, Alison/Vitor soon answered with a 5-1 run to level it at 6 all. At 10 all, a spiking error of the Dutch team gave Brazil a one point lead and Alison stuffed Brouwer twice in a row to make it 13-10. Brouwer came back with a shot and two aces to tie it at 13, only to find himself make two errors in a row to award the match and gold medal to the Brazilians.
“It’s amazing! It’s the second time I play with Alison and we got the gold medal, it’s amazing for me,” said Vitor. “I think Alison played very well and for me he is the best blocker in the world. It’s an amazing season. I like this moment.”
The two sides exchanged runs for a draw at 15 all in the opening set. From then on, the Dutch duo staged a 5-1 run on back of a pair of fine blocks and an ace by Meeuwsen to make it 20-16. The Brazilians were able to beat off two set points, but Brouwer finally converted on the third with a spike. After the game resumed, Alison produced a couple of aces and a kill to lead a 4-0 run that pushed the Brazilian tandem up to 12-9. Brouwer/Meeuwsen managed to pull within 14-12, but Alison/Vitor surged away again with a 5-1 burst and never looked back.
“We just had to be really concentrated, because the wind was very hard,” Vitor added. “We were encouraging each other when we were behind and telling each other that we should look at the positive part of our game.”
It was the sixth Grand Slam title of Alison and the second of Vitor, whose previous triumph had been achieved in Berlin in August with Evandro Oliveira. The silver medal was the second podium finish of the season for Brouwer/Meeuwsen, who had surprisingly claimed the gold medal at the World Championships in Poland in July.
Earlier on Saturday, Italy’s Paolo Nicolai /Daniele Lupo beat Jon Stiekema/Christiaan Varenhorst of the Netherlands in straight sets (22-20, 21-19) to take home the bronze medal. It was the fourth podium finish of the season for the Italian duo, who had won two Grand Slam bronzes in Long Beach and Corrientes and a silver medal in the Fuzhou Open.
“We are very happy and proud, because it was the last Grand Slam of the season. So we are very happy to get the medal,” said Nicolai. “I like China and every time we are in China we play very well.” The Italians are already looking forward to an even more successful season next year. “We are satisfied with our performance of this season. Now we are one of the best teams in the world. And next season we want to be the best,” Nicolai added.
Finishing in fourth, Stiekema/Varenhorst could be satisfied with their best ever result at any Grand Slam event. Their previous best finish was a fifth at the Moscow Grand Slam.
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