Baden, Austria. Many elite teams have confirmed their intention to compete at the FIVB World Tour BADEN OPEN presented by SPORT.LAND.NÖ, which is due to take place from August 19 to 23 at the spa resort in the outskirts of Vienna. Last year’s gold medal winners Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst will face a tough challenge in their mission to retain the title they secured in 2019 before their many passionate home fans.
The entry list of the women’s competition looks especially impressive, with four of the top five European teams from the World Ranking due to compete in Baden. Since defending champion and home favourite Katharina Schützenhöfer is still recovering from injury, partner Lena Plesiutschnig will play alongside Dorina Klinger.
Swiss teams top the entry lists, with EuroBeachVolley 2018 silver medallists Nina Betschart and Tanja Hüberli (current number 8 in the world, best-placed European duo, pictured above) as the favourites of the women’s competition, with their compatriots Adrian Heidrich and Mirco Gerson standing out as the top team in the men’s event. Next to their silver medal from the 2018 edition of the CEV European Championship, Betschart and Hüberli finished fourth at the 2019 World Championship in Hamburg as well as at the FIVB Major in Gstaad before securing fifth place at the Vienna Major. The Swiss return to Baden after claiming gold at the 2016 edition of the event.
Joana Heidrich/Anouk Vergé-Dépré (SUI) are the second-highest ranked team followed by top Czech duo Barbora Hermannova/Marketa Slukova. Vergé-Dépré is another former winner of the Baden tournament – she achieved the feat in 2012 together with Isabelle Forrer. Apart from Lena Plesiutschnig and Dorina Klinger, twins Nadine and Teresa Strauss will carry the hopes of Austrian success on home sand. Franziska Friedl/Eva Pfeffer, who this past weekend won a national tour event in Innsbruck, have received a wild card for the Main Draw, with Eva Freiberger/Viktoria Fink and Anja Dörfler/Julia Radl due to contest the qualification round.
The 26-year-old Heidrich and the 28-year-old Gerson are the reigning Swiss champions. They claimed gold at last year’s 3-Star tournament in Qinzhou (China) and finished fifth at the Vienna Major. The defending champions from Austria, Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst, will return to Baden after securing a silver medal this past weekend in Ljubljana, hoping to add another accolade to the three titles they have achieved together at this very same event (2019, 2018, and 2012). Michal Bryl/Mikolaj Miszczuk of Poland complete the top three seeds.
The others Austrians due to feature in the competition are reigning national champions Robin Seidl/Philipp Waller, Alexander Huber/Christoph Dressler (bronze medallists in Ljubljana), and EuroBeachVolley 2019 bronze medal winner Moritz Pristauz, this time competing with Laurenz Leitner. Pristauz’s regular partner Martin Ermacora is currently taking a break from competitive sport. Tobias Winter/Julian Hörl are due to start their journey from the qualification round.
Due to the measures in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, everything is different this year: the event area is in Weilburgpark and not directly at the Strandbad, to which ticket holders will still have access. Moreover, only a maximum of 200 visitors may attend the event at the same time. International participants must submit a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before their arrival, with further hygiene and safety measures in place as per the latest recommendations issued by national and international health authorities.
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