Gstaad, Switzerland, July 9, 2019 - With 37 percent of the men’s qualifying field here Tuesday featuring beach volleyball pairs that competed last week in Germany at the 2019 FIVB World Championships, the 20th annual Swatch Major Gstaad began with eight teams from seven countries advancing to the money rounds.
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Men's tandems from Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Latvia, Russia and the United States won qualifying matches on the five-court setup in the Swiss Alps village led by top-seeded Nikita Liamin/Taras Myskiv of Russia, who placed ninth in the World Championships at Hamburg.
Two Latvian teams ranked No. 9 and No. 11 on the FIVB World Tour ranking list also qualified for Wednesday's opening men's pool play rounds in the main draw at the US$600,000 event.
Second-seeded Martins Plavins/Edgars Tocs and third-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins qualified for Latvia for the main draw rounds after defeating pairs from Mexico and Turkey, respectively.
Plavins, who has played in 36 FIVB events with Samoilovs and 33 with Smedins, and Tocs are competing in their 22nd World Tour event in Gstaad with two fifths, five ninths and a 17th to their credit this season. Plavins and Tocs placed ninth in the Hamburg World Championships after being eliminated by Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sorum, who captured the 2018 Swatch Major Gstaad gold medal.
"It's crazy that we had to qualified," said the 34-year old Plavins, who captured the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games with Smedins. "It's the system, so we just have to play better to avoid the qualifier. Being ranked among the world's best is great, but you have to perform and place high in your latest FIVB World Tour appearances."
Tuesday’s action marked the first-time in 77 World Tour appearances together that Samoilovs and Smedins competed in a FIVB qualifier. The Latvian pairs have been playing together since 2013 with 11 gold medals, 22 podium placements and 28 final four appearances together. In their last four international starts together, Samoilovs and Smedins have placed ninth once and 17th three times.
Other qualifying teams Tuesday were fifth-seeded Grant O'Gorman/Ben Saxton of Canada, sixth-seeded Saymon Barbosa/Gustavo "Guto" Carvalhaes of Brazil, seventh-seeded Peng Gao/Yang Li of China, ninth-seeded Chase Budinger/Casey Patterson of the United States and 13th-seeded Nils Ehlers/Lars Fluggen of Germany.
O’Gorman/Saxton and Ehlers/Fluggen joined the Russian and Latvian pairs in competing in the FIVB World Championships in Hamburg.