Pro Tour Elite category tournament in beach volleyball, men's quarterfinals, June 3, 2023 in Ostrava. Ondřej Perušič from the Czech Republic rejoices after the match.
Ostrava – Beach volleyball players Ondřej Perušič and David Schweiner defeated Frenchmen Youssef Krou and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat 21:18, 21:12 at the Pro Tour Elite tournament in Ostrava and advanced to the semi-finals for the fifth time in Dolní Vítkovice. In it, the Norwegian defending champions Anders Mol and Christian Sörum await them on Sunday. Barbora Hermannová and Marie-Sára Štochlová were three points away from advancing to the quarterfinals, but in the end they lost to the Swiss Anouk Vergé-Dépréová and Joana Mäderová 22:20, 19:21, 11:15 and took shared ninth place.
In the first set of the men's quarterfinals, breaks alternated on both sides, the key was Perušič's ace at 18:17, which Schweiner supported with another block at set point. In the second set, the Czechs quickly bounced back and, thanks to several great saves by Perušič in the field, completely destroyed the French. Although Gauthier-Rat deflected the second of the ten match points with a fake serve called a skyball, the three-time silver medalists from Ostrava converted the others to the great delight of the audience.
“The French had a good tactical plan from the start, but we had an even better one, and that's why we won. We were quite effective in defense, but the loss wasn't so good. Fortunately, the French were a lot worse in that respect,” he said Schweiner. “The French served very well from the beginning, especially Gauthier-Rat. We focused on him in the second set, and then he ran out of strength a little,” added Perušič.
Sunday's semi-final with Norway will not only be a repeat of the Ostrava finals from 2019 and last year, but also a rematch for the May duel for gold in Uberlandia. There, the Czech team of Italian coach Andrey Tomatis won in a tie-break and succeeded after eight consecutive defeats.
“We have already played Norway so many times that we have nothing to be surprised about. In Brazil, we verified that it is possible to beat them with an excellent performance. It would be nice to follow up on that here, but we are talking about one of the best teams that has ever played this sport. It will be extremely difficult, but in front of such a backdrop, the conditions to surprise the favorites are there,” said Perušič .
Hermannová and Štochlová led most of the opening set and went to the end with a three-point lead. In the end, thanks to a service pig, Štochlové converted the third set ball. In the second set, the two couples battled for the lead, after several blocks Hermann's seventh-seeded Swiss became visibly nervous. However, the home players did not finish the promising score of 18:16.
In a tense tie-break, the home beach volleyball players turned the score from 2:4 to 5:4. After that, however, they picked up the deficit again and, despite great efforts, they could no longer eliminate it against the bronze pair from the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“To be three points away from the quarterfinals in such a big tournament obviously hurts,” Hermann said. “They are Olympic medalists and they will punish the slightest mistake, so they won't give it to you for free,” added the thirty-two-year-old native of Ostrava.
“I couldn't handle the end of the match more mentally, the stress was greater than me,” Štochlová admitted. “When we led 18:16 in the second set, there were a few important balls that we couldn't convert. Either we didn't manage it tactically, or we didn't take it upon ourselves and put it down. Against such opponents, it costs the whole match, ” added a beach volleyball player eight years younger from Prague.
Pro Tour Elite category beach volleyball tournament in Ostrava:
Quarterfinals: Perusič, Schweiner (4-CR) – Krou, Gauthier-Rat (8-Fr.) 2:0 (18, 12).
Round of eight: Vergéová-Dépréová, Mäderová (7-Switzerland) – Hermannová, Štochlová (12-ČR) 2:1 (-20, 19, 11).