Vienna, Austria, August 2, 2017 - Two years ago in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in the Netherlands, Cubans Nivaldo Diaz and Sergio Gonzalez finished second in their pool with their only setback in the competition to the Dutch No. 1-seeded team Reinder Nummerdor and Christiaan Varenhorst.
In the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships presented by A1, the 24th-seeded Nivaldo and Gonzalez finished first in their group here Wednesday after upsetting top-seeded Saymon Barbosa and Alvaro Filho of Brazil 2-1 (17-21, 21-15, 15-10) in a 45-minute Pool A match.
With this year’s World Championships featuring a pool play/single-elimination bracket format for the eighth-time, the defeat of Saymon and Alvaro in group play marks only the second time that the top-seeded pair was defeated in the preliminary rounds. The only other time was 2011 when Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers were upset by American rivals Casey Jennings and Kevin Wong at the FIVB World Championships in Rome.
With three Pool A victories, including early Vienna wins over pairs from Austria and Trinidad & Tobago, Nivaldo and Gonzalez will be the top-seeded team in the 32-team elimination bracket when play starts Thursday morning. The Cubans posted a ninth at the 2015 World Championships and a fifth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
After the match, Nivaldo said the “match was really hard. It might not be the most important game because both teams will qualify for the next round. We had the opportunity to show our skills and show our level against Brazil. The Olympics was our best tournament, it was the greatest for us. We are doing very well here. Now we have more intelligence and know more the level of the beach volleyball of the World Tour.”
Alvaro said his team “started out good, but then the Cubans changed their tactics and it worked. The new round of the tournament starts tomorrow, so we’re just thinking about that. We wanted to win this match for sure, nobody wants to lose. But we know that tomorrow starts a new type of competition. They are two guys who play very well, and have played together for a long time. They have good serves, just like all Cubans, and aggressive attacks. Their attacks work more than others' so that’s why they won."
Other group winners Wednesday were third-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena of the United States and the Brazilian pairs of fifth-seeded Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt and eighth-seeded Gustavo "Guto" Carvalhaes/Pedro Solberg.
Winning group titles Tuesday were fourth-seeded Evandro Goncalves/Andre Loyola of Brazil (Pool D), sixth-seeded Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Nikita Liamin of Russia (Pool F), seventh-seeded Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland (Pool G), ninth-seeded Gavira/Herrera (Pool I), 10th-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands, 11th-seeded Daniel Lupo/Paolo Nicolai of Italy (Pool K), 12th-seeded Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst of Austria or 13th-seeded Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk of Canada and 23rd-seeded Jefferson Santos Pereira/Cherif Younousse of Qatar (Pool B).