26.06.2019 - Vienna
In a nutshell
We remember it like it was yesterday. The Austrian capital did not disappoint when the 10th World Championships partied from dusk til dawn on Vienna’s Danube Island. 96 teams made the trip to a sun-kissed Vienna for 10 days of breath-taking action, goosebumps and a good old fashioned fairytale. The usual one million US Dollars was up for grabs.
Let’s get on with it…
André makes history
In the men’s tournament gold went to Brazil. After nine previous days of glorious sunshine of course it rained on the day of the final. That didn’t bother André Loyola and Evandro Gonçalves, who were crowned kings. In taking the title André, at 22, made history by becoming the youngest men’s champion. It was the seventh time Brazil had taken the men’s gold and for Evandro it was his second medal, having won bronze in 2015. The duo did it the hard way, losing one game and winning another two in three sets. Five of their eight games lasted 45 minutes or longer. During a tournament which regularly saw temperatures court-side reach 50 degrees Celsius, that’s some effort.
Laura & Kira add the missing piece
Olympic champions. Check. World Tour Finals winners. Check (twice). European champions. Check.
A year after scooping the biggest win of their careers on the Copacabana, Olympic heroes Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst completed their haul of all the major honors in the game by taking World Championship gold.
The pair came into the tournament short of match-practise – finishing ninth in two World Tour tournaments following their Olympic triumph as both players struggled with injury.
Come Vienna, however, they were ready. Zooming out of a pool containing two other German teams, they waltzed to the final without breaking a sweat in the boiling hot conditions.
In the final they lost the first set to Americans Lauren Fendrick and April Ross but stormed back to take the title, much to the delight of the thousands of German fans who had made the trip across the border.
World Champions. Check.
How did the Austrians do?
The tournament will be forever remembered for veterans Clemens Doppler and Alex Horst’s sensational route to the final that saw them eventually win silver.
For the team and their army of loyal fans, who packed the Red Bull Beach Arena, it was a nail-biting, rollercoaster ride. After winning their first two pool play matches in relative comfort, the pair lost their final group game in three sets to Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk. A tie-break then decided their first elimination match against Theo Brunner and Casey Patterson.
Cherif Samba and Jefferson Pereira made the Austrians work for the next win, a 26-24, 24-22 battle on Center Court, before arguably the match of the tournament that saw them tackle formidable Poles Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak in the quarter-finals. The Poles won a thrilling first set 33-31 that lasted for what seemed about six hours. But back came the Austrians, and roared on by their legion of supporters, they somehow summoned the effort to come back and win 21-18 in the second and 15-11 in the third. Tears flowed. Did they have the energy to go on?
Of course! After the drama of the quarter-final, their semi-final triumph was much more straightforward, a straight sets win over Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Nikita Liamin. So Doppler/Horst.
That set-up a final against Evandro and André. It’s a game Clemens and Alex have never watched back. Not even if you paid them. To cut the story short: They let a lead slip in the first set and never recovered. Brazil took gold. But it didn’t really matter – the Austrians’ had gone further than anyone expected and gave the crowd, Austria, themselves and their families some unforgettable moments.
Of the other Austrians in action on home sand, Robin Seidl and Tobias Winter and Martin Ermacora and Moritz Pristauz reached the first elimination round, as did top-finishing women’s team Katharina Schützenhöfer and Stefanie Schwaiger.
Few expected April Ross and Lauren Fendrick, the number 14 seeds, to reach the final, while the pick of the outsiders to impress were unfancied Cubans Lidiannis Echeverria and Leila Martinez who finished ninth.
Clemens and Alex’s route to the final apart, there was also a fine result for 2015 runner-up Christiaan Varenhorst who, with indoor regular Maarten van Garderen, finished fourth. Reigning champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt could only finish ninth, losing to Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk.
Worth a watch
Hands down, the quarter-final between Doppler/Horst and Kantor/Losiak. It’ll take 93 minutes out of your life but it’s worth it. We’ve watched it seven times in the past week alone. So should you.
A special World Championships because
Doppler and Horst’s journey to a silver medal had drama at every turn.
Impress your friends by saying:
In the last two men’s world championships (2015, 2017) a team from the host nation has gone on to reach the final.
Where are they now?
Many players will return to Hamburg after competing in Vienna two years ago but no necessarily in the same constellation.
However, the most high-profile absentee is 2017 champion Kira Walkenhorst. The blocker called time on her glittering career earlier this year after being unable to shake of a spate of injuries.
She became a mother to triplets which, we’re sure, is probably consuming most of her time right now. But the chances are the legendary German will make a visit to the scene of many of previous triumphs later this week.
The championships in three words?
Doppler and Horst.
Want to read more like this?
Read every single one of our look-back through the past championships: 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015 stories. We hope the next chapter is just as exciting as the previous 10!
See you @ the beach!