TOKYO (Reuters) – The Brazilian men’s and women’s teams got their Olympic beach volleyball campaigns off to strong starts on Saturday by winning their opening pool encounters against South American rivals Argentina in straight sets at Tokyo’s Shiokaze Park.
Olympic debutant Alvaro Filho overcame nerves before teaming up with 2016 gold medallist Alison Cerutti to beat the Argentine duo of Nicolas Capogrosso and Julian Azaad 21-16 21-17.
While Cerutti, who also won silver in 2012, scored the bulk of the attacking points he proved equally adept at the net with five points from blocks while Filho successfully dug the ball out five times.
“I’m still shaking. I was anxious before the match,” Filho said.
“The weather is also really hot and we had to stay focused all the time… But the adrenaline I feel now, after the match, is the same that I felt when my son was born. So it’s very special and I’m enjoying it a lot.”
Rio silver medallist Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Santos of Brazil dominated Ana Gallay and Fernanda Pereyra, beating the Argentine pair 21-19 21-11 in Pool C.
It was a disappointing day for Germany’s Laura Ludwig, the Rio gold medallist who returned to the sport in 2019 following a maternity break, as she and partner Margareta Kozuch lost their Pool F match to Switzerland after a good start.
Nina Betschart made all the difference for the Swiss, with 14 successful digs in the match to keep the ball in play.
The second Swiss women’s team of Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich also triumphed over Germany’s Julia Sude and Karla Borger despite a second set fightback, winning 21-8 21-23 15-6.
Japan’s women won the day’s opener by default as their Czech opponents withdrew due to a COVID-19 infection.
In Pool A, 2019 world champion Canadian duo Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes also earned a straight sets victory over the Netherlands’ Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon.
The Russian Olympic Committee team of Ilya Leshukov and Konstantin Semenov overcame Spain 21-19 22-20 in Pool A.
The world’s top-ranked pairing of Anders Mol and Christian Sorum began their quest to deliver Norway’s first Olympic medal in the sport with a 21-18 18-21 15-13 victory over Australia’s Christopher McHugh and Damien Schumann.
Dutchmen Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen made short work of Americans Philip Dalhausser and Nicholas Lucena 21-17 21-18 while in the women’s event, China’s Wang Fan and Xia Xinyi beat Canada’s Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson 18-21 21-15 15-11.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair and Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Pritha Sarkar)