2017-08-03 20:08:00 CEST
The quarterfinals have so far eluded them, but there is no better place to write the wrongs than in Vienna
Since 2001, Clemens Doppler has been a permanent fixture in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships presented by A1. Never before has he finished higher than ninth.
But within 24 hours – a time that will feel like eternity to them, the Red Bull Beach Arena and probably the whole of Vienna – he and Alex Horst could rewrite the record books.
That honor is just one game away.
All week the Viennese atmosphere has been electric, but nothing could compare to what they produced to inspire their heroes to one of their greatest ever comebacks.
The Austrians, if truth be told, had not played well in the first set, but 30 minutes later they were through to the last-16. A pinch-me moment if ever there was one.
“It means almost everything to us,” explained Horst after defeating Theo Brunner and Casey Patterson. “This is our stadium, our World Championships. We both live in Vienna so this is our city – everyone is coming here to cheer for us, to scream for us.
“We knew we could not play any worse after the first set, we recovered well and all of a sudden we were almost there. Those last few points were so emotional. Indescribable.
“I told Clemens we are not losing today, we knew that if we could play a bit better then we would win, especially with those fans in the background, they were awesome.
“One more win, wow! But it’s going to be a tough game – Qatar are not one of these exotic teams, they have been playing on the world tour for a number of years, they have beaten a number of excellent teams so far.”
Whether it was pressure, not playing well or a combination of the two, Doppler/Horst did not start well against the Americans Brunner/Patterson – losing the first set 21-18.
But the second saw the tide of the match turn, the rhythm was found and the belief was back – though arguably the confidence never left the Red Bull Beach Arena.
From there the tie break was going in just one direction, the Austrians prevailing 15-10, with a match against the 23rd seeds the only thing stopping them breaking new ground.
Doppler added: “It’s hard to describe those emotions, it was a real pressure for us because the fans expect from us, they want us to go far.
“I’m very proud that we came back from such a devastating first set. We changed all the tactics and it worked, to do that in front of this amazing crowd is one of the most emotional games I’ve ever played in.
“I don’t care what has gone before and these ninth-place finishes. We are here and in the now, in this World Championships in front of these amazing people.
“Now we have a real chance. If we play well these teams are beatable, but if we don’t we lose, so we have to make sure we are disciplined and focus.
“We don’t need to tell each other to fight because there is now way you can’t do that in front of this crowd.”
The duo take on Qataris Jefferson Santos Pereira and Cherif Younousse at 4.15pm CET.
Can Doppler/Horst make history on Red Bull Beach Arena? The atmosphere is sure to be electric, but if you can’t make it, don’t fear, the game is live and free on BeachStream. Click here to sign-up!
Clemens and Alex are last home team left in the competition following Martin Ermacora and Moritz Pristauz’s narrow defeat to Brazilians Pedro Solberg and Guto Carvalhaes. The Austrians took the first set but could not see off the Poreč Major champions.
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