JURMALA (LATVIA) – The Italian Beach Volleyball celebrates a great Sunday, the signature is once again by Paolo Nicolai who, together with Samuele Cottafava, won in Jurmala (Latvia) the victory in the “Elite 16” tournament, the highest competition of the new Beach Pro Tour 2022 circuit.
In the final, the Italian couple was the protagonist of an incredible comeback against the strong Qatar team Cherif-Ahmed, beaten 2-1 (16-21, 27-25, 15-12).
After a practically perfect journey, the boys trained by Simone Di Tommaso and Mariano Costa, in the match that offered the tournament as a prize, they found themselves facing one of the strongest pairs at international level: the Qatari Cherif-Ahmed Bronze medal in Tokyo 2020 and seeded No. 4 in the world rankings.
The start of the match was in favor of Cherif-Ahmed, who ran ahead (2-6), while Nicolai-Cottafava tried to react (7-9). The Azzurri held their opponents up to 13-15, when the Qatari placed a long break that decided the fraction (16-21).
Unlike the second set, Paolo and Samuele immediately set their pace, gaining a good margin (6-2). Cherif-Ahmed, however, did not give up and point after point they found parity (10-10). Both couples for long phases showed a very high level beach volleyball, keeping the partial in perfect balance (17-17). A heavy break by the Qataris put the blue duo (17-20) with their backs to the wall, but from that moment on they were the creators of a masterpiece. Nicolai-Cottafava, in fact, canceled 8 match-balls for their opponents (25-25), two exceptional walls by Paolo, and then thanks to Samuele’s service they closed the accounts at the first useful opportunity (27-25).
Driven by the great comeback, the two Azzurri managed the tie-break with authority (7-7) and, once they took the lead (12-9), they no longer conceded anything to their opponents (15-12).
The triumph at the Elite 16 in Jurmala represents the first couple success for Nicolai-Cottafava, who have already come close to victory at the “Challenge” in Doha: second final place.
For the athlete of the Air Force and for Cottafava, many precious points are on the way that will allow them to climb different positions in the world ranking and present themselves in the best possible way at the great event of the year: the Beach Volleyball World Championship which will take place at Foro Italico in Rome from 10 to 19 June 2022.
Paolo Nicolai: “We are really happy for this victory, we fought hard throughout the match, fighting for every ball. In the second set we managed to complete a great comeback, Samuele’s two excellent serves made the difference in the final. This obviously gave us a lot of energy for the tie-break. I want to thank all the audience because it was great to play in such an environment.
For me and Samuele this is the first success as a couple and it comes at a very important moment in our growth path ”.
Giuseppe Manfredi (President of Fipav) – «I want to thank Paolo and Samuele, as well as their staff, because the one obtained today is a great victory, which confirms the evident progress already made in recent weeks. Our couple won against one of the strongest teams in the world, giving us a fantastic comeback. We are very satisfied that the federal project is bearing the hoped-for results and now we hope that the Italian couples can be protagonists in the great event of the year: the Beach Volleyball World Championship which, starting from next week, will take place in the splendid location of the Foro Italico. “.
Diego Nepi Molineris (General Manager Sport & Salute) – (Also in view of the next World Championships in Rome, the World Championships Rome2022, organized by Fivb Con Sport e Salute:
“The victory of Nicolai and Cottafava, a couple that represents the perfect harmony between Paolo’s class and experience and the enthusiasm of an extraordinary talent such as Samuele, at the Elite16 in Jurmala against the Qatari medalists in Tokyo, as well as being an extraordinary sporting result, represents the perfect poster for the Beach Volleyball World Championship that we will host here in Rome at the Foro Italico from 10 June next. I can’t wait to hug them and admire their deeds on the sands of the Centrale and congratulate the president of Federvolley, Giuseppe Manfredi “.
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