Cuba’s Sergio Reynaldo Gonzalez Bayard and Diaz Gomez Nivaldo Nadir power onwards in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Xiamen Open 2017.
Gonzalez/Nivaldo faced Austria’s Alexander Hubert and Lorenz Petutschnig in their opening main draw match. The Cubans reached the quarterfinals of the Rio 2016 Olympics and took gold in Langkawi just one week prior to Xiamen.
A powerful performance made life difficult for the Austrians and Gonzalez/Nivaldo closed the match 2-0 (21-14, 21-15).
“We feel great because it’s our first match of the tournament and to get the victory is good for us. Some action in the court was not good, but now we need to work on that and win the next match,” said Nivaldo.
“It was a good match, they played well, but maybe the strength was the difference in the court. Our strength and our resistance was better than them so maybe this made the difference for our victory,” said Nivaldo.
“This is our second international tournament this year, the first tournament was the last stop in Malaysia which we won. But the difference is the level of the teams is higher here. We hope it is possible for us to get a medal,” said Nivaldo.
Alexander Hubert and Lorenz Petutschnig make their team debut in Xiamen, but a lingering shoulder injury proved challenging for the pair.
“I think we are kind of satisfied with the level we played because my partner Lorenz, just came back from injury and so this was our first test in competition. Many, many things worked well and worked as we hoped they would work. But obviously this was a tough match up for us, because they are a very good defensive team, in block and defense they are very strong, so I think we were struggling to score against their defense,” said Huber.
“I’m not happy with the way I played side-out, as Alexander said block defense worked very well, but my side-out was just not good enough. It was tough for me because my shoulder is not 100% at the moment. We knew that, but we came here to have competition, so I think it was a good decision to come here and of course it was a tough draw, they are an amazing team and it was not easy for us,” said Petutschnig.
The biggest win of the day came when USA’s Sean Rosenthal and Trevor Crabb took on number seven seeds, Belgium’s Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle. A well controlled performance earned the win in two sets, 2-0 (21-12, 21-17).
“That was a good match for us, we had a tough game in the qualifier, we had match point against us, we had a few big plays and came through. And then today we kind of got it rolling and played a lot better. It’s single elimination out here so it was a good game for us and hopefully we can keep the momentum rolling,” said Rosenthal.
“I would say we both played really smooth today and made very few errors compared to yesterday and the cool weather has helped us out a lot for sure. Yesterday it was really hot and today it’s nice and cool, so we’re looking forward to tomorrow and the rest of the tournament,” said Crabb.