Qatar’s second team of Ahmed Tijan and Julio Cesar Do Nascimento pulled off a big upset on the opening day of the Qatar Open 2016, an event on the FIVB World Open Tour calendar, on Tuesday.
At the Qatar Beach Volleyball Academy show court, Tijan and Nascimento, who have paired up recently after Assam Mahmoud pulled out, stunned third-seeded Canadian Chaim Schalk and Ben Saxton in straight sets.
With this 21-18 21-18 victory in 34 minutes, Tijan and Nascimento kept their hopes for a spot in the second round alive. The pair had earlier lost to Italian Ingrosso brothers, Matteo and Paolo, by 19-21 81-21 in 37 minutes.
The Qatari pair clearly suffered from lack of experience but showed their high spirits against the Canadian later and posted a huge victory. This was the second loss for the Canadians.
Qatar’s lead team of Jefferson Santos Pereira and Cherif Younousse had a positive start and avenged their quarter-final loss to Australians Bo Soderberg and Cole Durant with a superb three-set victory.
The local stars were slow to start against the Aussies who had beaten them in the just-concluded AVC Asian Senior Beach Volleyball Championships in straight sets en route to the runners-up finish to compatriots Issac Kapa and Chris McHugh.
From the middle of the opening set when they were 12-15 down, Younousse, who was inspired by Pereira, shrugged off his nervousness and played brilliantly to pull off a 19-21 21-18 19-17 victory in 49 minutes.
But Pereira and Younousse somewhat lost a bit of their advantage later as they went down to Norwegian qualifiers Kvamsdal Morten and Christian Sandlie at 18-21 17-21.
Qatar may have lost the first set but they started to get more confident and sure against the Aussies. They duly clinched the second set and with, senior partner Pereira controlling the backcourt with his athletic display, Younousse mixed power-packed smashes and well-measured drops intelligently to maintain the pressure on the rivals in the tie-break set constantly.
At one stage, Qatar were 7-3 up and then held the 8-4 and 10-7 leads before Soderberg and Durant rallied back.Both the pairs were locked at 10-10, 11-11, 12-12 and then 13-13 before Pereira and Younousse set up the first match point with the latter getting a touch out. The Aussies, who won the AVC Jogjakarta Open last year and were playing in the seventh tournament together, then got two opportunities to close out the set and the match but Pereira and Younousse denied them in turns.
Then Younousse dominated the net and pulled off a block to raise hopes of a Qatar victory, which could however not materialise at that stage. Younousse fired a smash to get third match point (18-17) for his team and he followed it with a thrilling block off Durant to seal the pulsating victory.
Pereira said after the match, “We’re very happy to get a winning start. We had played them in the quarter-finals of the Asian Championships in Australia recently and lost to them. Younousse was a bit nervous in the beginning, just as he was in the Down Under.
“But in the middle of the opening set, he started to regain his confidence and he played well upfront to give us a positive beginning. Last year, we did not do well at the home event but now we’ll try to consolidate our good start.”
Younousse admitted that he was a bit shaky in the beginning but as the match progressed, he started to find his touch again. “I’m pleased with the way I got back into the match. Pereira has always been a great support. We won some good points and put a lot of pressure on the Australians. I’m also happy that I played well in the tie-break set and contributed my best in the all-important victory.”
Tijan commented: “We made some mistakes in the service. We’ll try to stage comeback, though the event is quite high-level.”
Nascimento said after the first match, “It was a tough match for us. We tried to be as close to them as possible but we could not win. We need more time to play together and hopefully, we’ll try to make amends in the next matches.”