DOHA, January 07, 2016-Qatar’s Julio Cesar Do Nascimento-Ahmed Tijan booked a place in the knockout round of the $75,000 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Qatar Open yesterday despite losing to the Canadian pair of Sam Pedlow and Grant O’Gorman 2-1 (21-13, 22-24, 15-13).
Nascimento-Tijan advanced at the expense of third seed Canadian pair — Chaim Schalk and Ben Saxton — who lost all their pool matches.
Home hopefuls Jefferson Santos Pereira-Cherif Younousse, winners of the opening FIVB World Tour tournament of the year on Kish Island, also bowed out, coming out worst on a three-way tie to finish bottom of their pool. The ninth seed Italian pair of Paolo Nicolai-Daniele Lup defeated Pereira-Younousse 2-0 (21-19, 21-14) in their last pool match.
Top seeds Jacob Gibb-Casey Patterson of USA scraped through to the next round and second-seeded Clemens Doppler-Alexander Horst of Austria topped their pool undefeated.
Nascimento-Tijan play the top-seeded American pair in the first match of the knockouts.
Earlier, the Austrian pair of Doppler and Horst defeated Poland’s Kadziola-Szalankiewicz (2-1) 21-17, 19-21, 15-10 in their last pool outing to advance to the second round. The Austrians topped their pool with three wins from three matches.
While the pair are looking in the kind of form that could allow them to challenge for a place on the podium, the day-night (Qatar Open) tournament is also allowing them the chance to prepare for the conditions at Rio 2016.
“We are really happy because we came here to prepare for the Olympics,” Doppler said.
“Here there are night session games under the lights and deep sand and that is important because you don’t have so many occasions in the season when you have night session games.
“For us it is a very important tournament especially as it our 12th tournament so we have fulfilled the criteria for the qualification process.”
Doppler and Horst played at the London 2012 Olympic Games after they qualified through the FIVB Continental Cup. The two had also participated in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, albeit with different partners — Doppler alongside Peter Gartmayer and Horst with Florian Gosch.
The Austrians are currently eighth in the FIVB Olympic Rankings, from which the top 15 teams and the top two Brazilian teams qualify. Teams have to play a minimum of a 12 tournaments in the qualification period to be eligible for qualification and the Qatar Open takes the pair to the necessary dozen.
“I think it is very hard to top London,” Doppler said. “The centre court was breath-taking and now I know how tennis players feel in Wimbledon or other grand slams because you couldn’t see the top row in the stadium because it was so huge.
“Playing beach volleyball in Rio is such a special event and for us London was a little bit unlucky result wise, but our big goal is to win a medal in Rio and I think we have a chance.”
Doppler and Horst have started the year in good form and reached the quarter-finals at the Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam.
They won bronze at the 2015 Yokohama Grand Slam, their first World Tour medals since they won silver at the 2012 Stare Jablonki Grand Slam that came a week after London 2012.
Once the Qatar Open wraps up tomorrow, the duo will head to the next stop on the World Tour, the Xiamen Open in China. They will next travel to warmer climates to put the finishing touches to their preparation for the European-based World Tour events.
“After the next tournament we’ll go for 10 days training in the Canary Islands and then we start the season completely prepared,” Doppler said. “We’re trying to keep up the good work from last season because we had a very solid season and we’ve started with a fifth in Rio.”