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2015-07-12 09:00:00 CET

Gold on the line in Gstaad

Four top men’s beach volleyball teams will contend for Swatch Major Series gold in the thin mountain air of Gstaad, Switzerland on July 12, where impressive series newcomers from Latvia have veterans from Brazil, Italy and the Netherlands looking over their shoulders.

Only one team from Brazil – this season’s dominant beach volleyball power – has made it into the final four, but what a team it is: Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt, who came to the Gstaad Major straight from winning the FIVB World Championship in The Hague on July 5. It’s their first advance to a Swatch Major Series finals day after two previous tournament appearances; however, to clutch the traditional Swiss cowbell trophy they’ll need to get by Italy’s Alex Ranghieri and Adrian Carambula in the Semis. The Italians captured bronze at June’s Poreč Major, which was only their second FIVB World Tour tournament together, and they’ve continued to gel ever since, looking strong in Gstaad.

Photocredit: Andreas Langreiter Photocredit: Andreas Langreiter

Then there’s Robert Meeuwsen and Alexander Brouwer of the Netherlands, who have their own unique motivation to make it to the top. The Dutchmen won the opening stop of the Swatch Major Series in Croatia, and they have a chance to bookend the season with a victory at Sunday’s closer in Gstaad. Perhaps more important, they are the recently dethroned world champions, and they must be stinging from seeing Alison and Bruno crowned in The Hague. Perhaps Meeuwsen and Brouwer can soothe their disappointment with another Swatch Major Series gold – if they can survive their Semifinal against Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins of Latvia. Making it all the way to the Semis in their first Swatch Major Series Main Draw, the Latvians could already be considered the spoilers of the tournament – but they’re not exactly unfamiliar to the field, or to fans: Samoilovs and Smedins are the defending FIVB World Tour champions, and they won the World Tour in 2013 as well.

Photocredit: Andreas Langreiter Photocredit: Andreas Langreiter

Every match on Sunday will be played in the electric atmosphere of the 6,000-seat Center Court, with Semifinal matches beginning at 10:00 am CET followed by medal rounds and the awards ceremony in the afternoon.