2018-10-14 16:35:00 CET
Ross/Klineman and Semenov/Leshukov prevailed in the last tournament of the year in China
The United States, Russia and Brazil were the three countries to dominate the World Tour four-star event in Yangzhou, China, as the nations took home two medals each at the conclusion of the event on Sunday.
North Americans and Europeans had yet more reason to celebrate as they scooped the gold medals with the pairs of April Ross/Alix Klineman and Konstantin Semenov/Ilya Leshukov.
Ross and Klineman, who had won the NORCECA Championships just a week ago, kept the good form in the Chinese sand. The duo won six of its seven matches in the tournament to claim its second-ever World Tour gold medal following a straight-set (21-19, 21-16) victory over Brazilian qualifiers Rebecca Silva and Ana Patricia Ramos, who had topped the podium in the three-star event in Qinzhou last weekend.
“We had to focus on our side,” Ross, a two-time Olympic medalist, said. “They served very tough but Alix sided out very well. We just had to figure out to get some points here and there. It was really tough to play against them.”
The USA also claimed the bronze medal with Sara Hughes and Summer Ross. The team coached by the legendary Jose Loiola came from behind to down Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes in three sets (16-21, 23-21, 15-5) and finish third.
The men’s tournament had the second-ever all-Russian final in the World Tour and Semenov, a semifinalist of the Rio 2016 Olympics, and Leshukov came out on top of a tough battle with compatriots Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy, who were playing together for the first time.
The veteran blocker, who returned to the sands less than a year ago, and the young defender, who had also topped the podium in the three-star event in Mersin in May, overcame a first-set setback to bounce back and win the game in the tie-breaker (14-21, 21-19, 15-13).
“It was a very important match for us because we just started playing in the World Tour this year and it was against my former partner (Krasilnikov),” Semenov commented. “We had a terrible performance in the first set. In the second and third sets, we traded a lot of points with our opponents so we had to change tactics. My partner had very good side out today.”
Brazilians Guto Carvalhaes and Saymon Barbosa, who were sharing the court in the World Tour for the first time since 2016, finished third after Canadian blocker Sam Pedlow had to forfeit the bronze medal match alongside partner Sam Schachter due to an ankle injury.
The World Tour heads to Las Vegas, USA, where it will have the last four-star event of the year from October 16-21. At the same time, Iran will host its third straight one-star tournament with the competition landing in Bandar Anzali from October 16-19.