Doha, Qatar, May 6, 2017 – Olympians Jefferson Santos Pereira/Cherif Younousse struggled hard to beat Australians Chris McHugh/Damien Schumann in the final showdown to delight home fans with the AVC Beach Tour Aspire Qatar Master title on Saturday.
At the Aspire Park, Pereira/Younousse won the title, their second title at the Asian Tour this year, with a 21-12, 27-29, 15-13 victory in a gripping finish.
Qatar, Australia, Indonesia and Iran have qualified for the FIVB Beach World Championships in Vienna, Austria in July-August. In the 2015 worlds, Pereira/Younousse represented Qatar, Alexandr Dyanchenko and Alexey Sidorenko contested for Kazakhstan. For Australia, McHugh and Issac Kapa formed one pair and other duo consisted of Joshua Court/Damien Schumann.
Pereira/Younousse had already beaten the Australians in the Satun Pak Bara Master semi-finals before winning the title in Thailand.
Younousse was dominant at the net and Pereira pulled off some fine digs which forced the rivals to make unforced errors. The Qataris built up formidable lead from 9-6 to 19-10 before gaining the set point 20-11. The Aussies saved a point but their service went out which gave Qatar an encouraging 1-0 lead.
The second set was an absolute thriller. Qatar had a golden chance to wrap up the match when they edged to 20-18. But Pereira service went out and Younousse failed to block McHugh. Both pairs looked like winning and the set was stretched to 27-27, though the home players had more chances to nail it.
It was the Australians who won the set and forced the tie-breaker in which the Qatari players, however, displayed more cool and organized mix of attack and defense to pile the pressure on the opponents. Once Pereira/Younousse moved 7-4 up, they continued to progress strongly and Younousse set up the match point with a big smash (14-12). The Aussies saved a point but Younousse rifled another spike to clinch it for Qatar.
McHugh, who had won the Asian title in Australia last year with Issac Kapa and qualified for the worlds in the Netherlands in 2015, and Schumann secured the second place.
Indonesians Ade Candra Rachmawan/Mohammad Asfiya sealed the bronze medal with a fine 21-19 21-15 triumph over New Zealand’s new pair Tom Hartles and Michael Watson. The first set was apparently more thrilling. It was only in the closing stages that Asfiya fired a smash to gain the set point 20-19.
Watson, who played the quarter-finals of the 2016 Asian Championships in Australia with Sam O’Dea, smashed then outside to send the Indonesians, who figured in the finals of both the AVC Beach Tour events, 1-0 ahead.
But the second set started to tilt in favour of Rachmawan/Asfiya after 12-10.
The Indonesians shot 14-10 up and then handled the points well to reach the match point off a block by Rachmawan. Hartles then smashed long and Rachmawan/Asfiya then bagged the bronze medal.
Rachmawan commented after the match: “We are very happy with the bronze medal. Also we are delighted that we qualified for the worlds for the first time. We might have reached the final but made some errors against the Australians and lost the match.
“The bronze medal match was tough as the New Zealand players had good skills. But we controlled the match well”, said Rachmawan.
Asfiya said, “We want to thank the Indonesian fans who turned up to support us in Doha. We are glad with our third-place finish and we will try to do our best in the World Championships in Vienna.”
Earlier, the semi-finals turned out to be lop-sided contests. Pereira/Younousse controlled the proceedings with brilliant team work and got past New Zealand’s Tom Hartles/Michael Watson in half an hour.
Younousse was strong at the net and Pereira, whenever he got an opportunity to attack, came up to blast the ball home in their 21-11 21-19 triumph.
In the first set, the score clearly showed dominance by the Qataris. The second set was close and the home pair opened a three-point gap with Younnousse hammering a smash 14-11. After that the Kiwis remained under pressure.
Maintaining the gap and their tight grip, the Qataris had three match points 20-17 when Pereira drilled a smash between the two rivals. Hartles/Watson saved the match twice. They might have forced extra points as well. Hartley defended a Younousse smash well but the return narrowly went out after catching the Qataris by surprise.
The Australians exacted the revenge for losing the semi-finals to Indonesians Ade Candra Rachmawan/Mohammad Asfiya in the Asian Championships in Songkhla, Thailand last month.
Both McHugh/Schumann were compact and displayed good chemistry at the court while winning the match by 21-14 21-15 in 34 minutes. After putting his service into the net, the tall McHugh made amends with a superb spike to set up the match point 20-14.
The Indonesians, who figured in the finals of both the Asian tour events this season, avoided the defeat with Rachmawan finding a fine drop. But the inevitable would not be delayed and McHugh won a push over the net to seal the victory.
Qatar Olympic Committee Secretary-General Dr Thani Abdulrahman al Kuwari presided over the closing ceremony on Saturday and gave away the prizes and trophies. Also present on the occasion were QVA President Ali Ghanim Al Kuwari and Aspire officials.
Chris McHugh/Damien Schumann (Australia) b Ade Candra Rachmawan/Mohammad Asfiya (Indonesia) 21-14 21-15
Jefferson Santos Pereira/Cherif Younousse (Qatar) b Tom Hartles/Michael Watson (New Zealand) 21-11 21-19
BRONZE MEDAL MATCH
Ade Candra Rachmawan/Mohammad Asfiya (Indonesia) b Tom Hartles/Michael Watson (New Zealand) 21-19 21-15
GOLD MEDAL MATCH
Jefferson Santos Pereira/Cherif Younousse (Qatar) b Chris McHugh/Damien Schumann (Australia) 21-12 27-29 15-13
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