Former world champion Márcio Araújo and partner Luciano Ferreira de Paula won an all-Brazilian qualifying match on the opening day of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) Vitória Open to advance to the main men’s draw.
In the next to last match of the day on Camburi beach’s centre court, the 26th seeds rallied to claim a 19-21, 21-16, 15-12 win over 23rd seeds Oscar Brandao and Andre Loyola after 54 minutes.
Araújo and Ferreira de Paula had earlier ousted seventh seeds Marco Caminati and Enrico Rossi of Italy, triumphing 21-13, 19-21, 17-15 victory in 58 minutes.
"What a relief," said Araújo, who won top honours at the 2005 Beach Volleyball World Championships in Berlin alongside Fábio Luiz Magalhães.
"It’s been a long day."
Three years after capturing the world title, Araújo and Magalhães finished runners-up at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games after losing to the United States’ Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers in the gold medal match.
Prior to playing with Magalhães, Araújo played in 50 FIVB World Tour events with Benjamin Insfran.
The pair won eight international circuit gold medals together, including the 2000 Vitória Open title.
"I really wanted to make the main draw as this is where my former partner Fabio works as an official in the Sports Ministry," added Araújo.
"It will be good to see him along with playing here again in Vitória."
Saymon Barbosa and Guto Carvalhaes, who were seeded 15th in the qualifier, won the last match of the day over second-ranked Latvian pair Martins Plavins and Haralds Regza to ensure the hosts Brazil will be represented by five teams in the main draw.
In addition to the two qualifying teams, other Brazilian pairs in tomorrow’s main draw are reigning world champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt, Ricardo Santos and Álvaro Morais Filho, and "wild card" entrants Leonardo Léo Gomes and Rodrigo Vieira Bernat.
Two teams from Poland earned main draw berths today, including fifth-seeded Michal Bryl and Jakub Szalankiewicz, and eighth-seeded Maciej Kosiak and Maciej Rudol.
Poland placed three teams in the "final four" at last week's Rio Grand Slam on Copacabana Beach, including two men's pairs.
Other men's teams advancing to the main draw are top seeds Murat Giginoglu and Volkan Göğtepe of Turkey and third seeds Jefferson Santos Pereira and Cherif Younousse of Qatar.
Pool play starts tomorrow for both genders as the FIVB World Tour returns to Vitória for the first-time since 2006 in the build-up to the Rio Olympics in Brazil.
After two days of pool play, the top three teams from each group will advance to the elimination phase.
Two elimination rounds are due to be played on Friday (March 18) with the men’s and women’s quarter-final matches set for Saturday (March 19).
The medal matches are scheduled for Sunday (March 20).