Rio de Janeiro: Russia experienced mixed fortunes in the men's Olympic beach volleyball quarterfinals on Monday when Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Konstantin Semenov made up for some disappointment for their compatriots with a gritty three-set victory to advance.
Krasilnikov and Semenov needed all their experience to eke out a 22-20, 22-24, 18-16 over the surprising Cuban pairing of Nivaldo Diaz and Sergio Gonzalez in what the Russians described as their toughest match of the tournament.
"The Cubans were playing really good. We were fighting until the very end and trusted that we could win," Semenov told reporters.
The victory enable the Russians to set up a semifinal encounter against Italy's Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo, who continued their amazing run as lucky losers from the pool stage with a three-set win over Nikita Liamin and Dmitri Barsuk.
The Italians lost two out of three of their group matches but have won three contests since to reach the semifinals, including a 21-18 20-22 15-11 victory over their Russian opponents on Monday.
Elsewhere, Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt delighted home fans when they ground out a 21-14, 12-21, 15-9 victory over Nicholas Lucena and Phil Dalhausser of the United States to keep Brazil on course for a fifth straight finalist in the event.
The wind picked up just before the match, tearing banners from the scaffolding at the front of the arena, but the Brazilians handled the conditions better to win in front of an ecstatic Copacabana crowd.
"The strategy was to use the wind... We started the third set hard, put on early pressure and it worked for us," Schmidt said.
The Brazilian duo will face Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen for a place in the final after the Dutch duo defeated compatriots Reinder Nummerdor and Christiaan Varenhorst 25-23, 21-17 in a battle between two of the top seeded pairs.