Vienna, Austria, August 2, 2019 - With only four of the top eight-seeded pairs from Norway, Russia, Brazil and Russia winning as expected here Friday at the $600,000 A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch, it was the continued success for Switzerland's Adrian Heidrich and Mirco Gerson that created the biggest break-through to the last eight at this week's FIVB World Tour event.
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Seeded 25th in the 32-team main draw, Heidrich and Gerson were a surprise winner of their pool Thursday with wins over hometown favourites Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst of Austria and 2019 Tokyo Open silver medal winners Nils Ehlers/Lars Fluggen of Germany.
The Swiss continued their winning ways Friday afternoon by ousting 31st-seeded qualifiers Steven van de Velde/Christiaan Varenhorst of the Netherlands 2-0 (21-18, 21-18) in 32 minutes to advance to the quarterfinals of an FIVB event for the first time in their last nine World Tour appearances this season.
“We’re super happy to have won this match," said the 26-year-old Gerson. "We also won our pools in Hamburg and Gstaad, but we couldn’t make it past the first elimination match both times and now we finally did it. We didn't play badly on those occasions; it was more about one or two important points going our opponents’ way and today they went our way.”
Gerson added that his team "served really well. The Dutch are a great team and they played a great tournament. Varenhorst is a World Championship finalist and van de Velde is a very talented young player so we knew we had to risk everything on our serves, and we got some aces in the end which made the difference.”
By winning Friday, the Swiss will now play the No. 1 men's team in the world Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway in one of four quarterfinal matches Saturday. The two have only met once on the FIVB World Tour with the Swiss winning a pool play match June 28, 2018 in Warsaw. Poland.
“They’re obviously a great team but the good thing is that we played only once and we won, so maybe we can do it again,” said Gerson.
With the men only playing one round of elimination matches on Friday, the top-seeded Mol and Sorum withstood a challenge by Rio 2016 Olympic silver medal winners Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai to post a 2-1 (21-12, 19-21, 15-7) win in 56 minutes Friday.
The Norwegians have won 58 of their 62 FIVB World Tour contests this season with a 17-match winning streak as Mol and Sorum have captured six gold medals this season with back-to-back podium-topping placements last month in Switzerland and Japan.
Other quarterfinal matches Saturday have 22nd-seeded Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira of Spain challenging sixth-seeded Michal Brel/Grzegorz Fijalek of Poland, 14th-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena of United States playing 24th-seeded qualifiers Nils Ehlers/Lars Fluggen of Germany and fifth-seeded Alison Cerutti/Alvaro Filho of Brazil playing second-seeded and newly-crowned FIVB world champions Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Oleg Stoyanovskiy of Russia.
With the women's medal matches Saturday with three Brazilian pairs challenging world champions Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Canada for the podium places, the men's semifinals will be Sunday. The winning teams net the $40,000 first-place prizes and collect 1,200 points towards qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.