Qatar’s Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan are back in the final of an FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 4-start event in the Cancun Hub for a third-straight week, but this time the Qataris will face a different opponent as they will play the gold medal match at Playa Delfines against Russians Konstantin Semenov and Ilya Leshukov.
The only team to play in the final of each of the three events held in Mexico between mid-April and early May, the Qataris lost to Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sorum on both occasions. They now have another chance to win their first gold together in a 4-star tournament.
The 25-year-old Younousse and the 26-year-old Tijan had a strong day in Cancun on Saturday, when they knocked two Olympic champions out of the tournament with a 2-0 (23-21, 21-15) quarter-final win against Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Alvaro Filho and claimed another two-set (21-15, 21-17) victory against USA’s Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena in the semifinals.
“We’re really thankful that we are in back-to-back-to-back finals here in Mexico,” said Younousse, a Rio 2016 Olympian. “We stopped in Florida on our way to Cancun to adjust to the time difference and had a really good week of training with Phil and Nick there. We’ve been trying to improve our volleyball IQ, game by game, and just play better matches every time.”
Semenov and Leshukov, who finished fifth in the first tournament in Cancun and ninth in the second, won all five matches they played in the third event, with the most recent being their 2-0 (21-16, 21-17) quarter-final victory against Americans Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb and a 2-1 (14-21, 21-15, 15-13) semifinal triumph against Italians Adrian Carambula and Enrico Rossi, both on Saturday.
The 31-year-old Semenov and the 25-year-old Leshukov, who have been partners on the World Tour since 2018, are back in the final of a 4-star event for the first time since October in that same year, when they won a tournament in Yangzhou, China.
“We struggled a lot with Carambula’s serve in the first set”, Semenov, a two-time Olympian, reflected. “We had played him a long time ago and his skyball wasn’t as effective as it is now with the wind. From the second set on we started helping each other more and that brought our best game out of us. We’re happy to be in our first final this year.”
The Qataris have a 3-1 historical advantage against the Russians in World Tour events. The Europeans, however, won the most recent meeting between the teams, which took place two weeks ago in Cancun.(FIVB)
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