There have been tournaments in the World Tour history where qualifiers make the surprise in the Main Draw, but I do not remember a single event dominated by two teams that have previously survived the Qualification round. Such was the week for the Americans Hyden-Bourne and Doherty-Lucena, who met in an all-American final on Sunday at the Berlin Grand Slam.
The 41-year old John Hyden and his 25-year old blocker partner Tri Bourne won their first World Tour gold medals by beating compatriots Ryan Doherty and Nick Lucena in straight sets (21-17, 21-11). Solid block-defence was the key for Hyden-Bourne’s supremacy, especially notable in the convincing second set. The 15th all-American final in the FIVB World Tour was an event of many firsts. Not only have we witnessed a final game between low-seeded teams, coming all the way from the Wednesday qualifications through the main bracket, but it was also a debut podium for the recent baseball player Ryan Doherty, standing at 214cm.
“No words can describe this”, said John Hyden. “I have waited for this for a while. I had a great weekend. It rained a lot and I love playing in the rain. It’s been a great tournament. As I said earlier, we just took one at a time.”
The only player with podium experience among the four fellow yankees was Nick Lucena. The silver in Berlin was his four lost final in the World Tour overall, all of which achieved with his former partner Matt Fuerbringer.
Brazil’s Alison-Bruno added a bronze medal finish to their silver from the opening event in Fuzhou, China. In an all-Brazilian third-place playoff Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt shattered Emanuel Rego and Pedro Salgado. These four players were teamed up differently in the past years, with Pedro-Bruno finishing second in the 2013 World Tour, whereas Alison-Emanuel were the 2011 World champions.
Still, Brazil vs. Brazil is always tough, said Bruno. “We have played against each other for ten years already. We knew we had to focus and play strong mentally, don’t give them any chances, because Emanuel is a legend.”
Emanuel-Pedro are still looking for their first podium together, as they missed it closely both in Berlin and Shanghai this year.
The Brazilian-American weekend in Berlin put an end to Europe’s winning streak in 2014.