Canadian duo advance to semis at beach volleyball World Tour event
Germany's Ludwig, Walkenhorst look to add to Rio gold
Canada's Chaim Schalk and Ben Saxton have advanced to the semifinals of the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto on Saturday.
The pair began the day with a round–of–16 straight sets win over Poland's Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen 21-19, 21-16.
Schalk and Saxton faced a stiffer test in the quarter-finals, dropping the first set 17-21 to Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak of Poland. The Canadians, however, stormed back in the second 21-12 before taking the third 15-11.
"The fans are supporting us rain or shine, so it's really nice to have that … It sounds so loud and we can't thank the fans enough," Schalk said after the match. "We're trying to keep everything at a steady pace and enjoy the moment … It was a really great match against a really good team … We made a lot of big plays and we're really happy with the result."
Their opponents in Sunday's semifinals will be top seeded Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Alison Cerutti of Brazil. The fourth seeded Canadians will be counting on the support of the home crowd to help defeat the reigning Olympic gold medallists.The match, which will take place at Polson Pier, is scheduled to start at 11 a.m ET.
The other semi-final between 12th seeded John Hyden and Tri Bourne of the U.S. and fifth seeded Pedro Solberg Salgado and Evandro Goncalves Oliveira Junior of Brazil will begin at 10 a.m.
The two winners will then play again on Sunday in the gold medal match at 3 p.m. while the consolation final will start at 1:45 p.m. ET.
Canada's other duo of Josh Brinstock and Sam Schachter were unable to progress beyond the round–of–16, falling in three sets 21-18, 17-21, 15-12 to Mariusz Prudel and Grzegorz Fijalek of Poland.
"We're obviously disappointed coming up just a little short," said Schachter, after being eliminated. "It really stings being here at home and wanting to win for the crowd, ourselves and our family."
Germans keep rolling
The German duo of Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst haven't slowed down since winning gold at the Rio Games.
Ludwig and Walkenhorst, who won the European and the German titles this season on top of Olympic gold, have reached the women's championship match after a semifinal victory on Saturday over Brazilians Larissa Maestrini and Talita Da Rocha Antunes.
They will face Swiss partners Joana Heidrich and Nadine Zumkehr on Sunday.
Ludwig and Walkenhorst defeated Heidrich and Zumkehr in the final of the A1 Major Klagenfurt earlier this season, but were beaten by the Swiss tandem at this week's event in Toronto.
"We know Nadine and Jo very well, we've played against each other and practiced with them a number of times. It will definitely be tough," said Ludwig.
"It's unbelievable that they have come out here so strong at this tournament."
Zumkehr says it's surreal to reach the final of the Swatch World Tour finals because it will be the 31-year-old's final match before she retires.
"It's like a dream — I think any player would want to end their career in the final of the Swatch World Tour finals," said Zumkehr.
"There are no words to describe the feeling. I will go out and enjoy every point and fight even harder to bring the gold home. We have nothing to lose, we want to enjoy it and go out with a smile and that's what we're going to do."
Heidrich and Zumkehr beat fellow Swiss team Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Verge-Depre for their spot in the championship match.
With files from CBC Sports