Top U.S. pair Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers suffered an unexpected 2-0 defeat to a tenacious Latvian duo in the first day of the Beijing beach volleyball tournament.
The 48-minute encounter was proved to be a nip and tuck competition in which both sides tried hard to score with powerful serves and hard spikes.
Latvia's Martins Plavins/Aleksandrs Samoilovs, ranked 23rd on the Olympic seed list, exhibited their strength from the start, taking the first set 21-19.
Phi/Todd, who have been topping the 2008 Olympic qualifying list by winning four events during the Summer Games process, struggled hard to turn the table but lost their stream under waves of attacks by dogged Latvians, who won the second set 21-18 before sealing the match 2-0.
Martins and Aleksandrs hugged each other after the hard-won victory.
"We put all our energy into the competition to clinch the win," Martins said after the match. He added that they need one more victory to advance to the 16-team knockout stage.
The beach volleyball preliminaries run through Aug 9 to 14, followed by elimination match until Aug 22. Top teams from each pool and two best third-placed teams advance to the top 16. The remaining four third-placed teams play two playoffs to determine the remaining two berths in top 16.
(Xinhua News Agency August 9, 2008)