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2016-06-29 20:30:00 CET

Home favorites’ delight at debut despite defeats!

Croatian sensations cause a stir on Center Court

Samanta Fabris goes head-to-head with World Champions Larissa/Talita in her first-ever beach volleyball match. Photocredit: Bernhard Horst.Samanta Fabris goes head-to-head with World Champions Larissa/Talita in her first-ever beach volleyball match. Photocredit: Bernhard Horst.

What a day it’s been for Croatia’s Samanta Fabris and Sara Radanovic.

The pair woke up on Wednesday morning facing a daunting baptism of fire at the Poreč Major with matches against Brazilian World Champions Larissa/Talita and Broder/Valjas of Canada, who finished fourth here 12 months ago.

The bad news for Fabris and Radanovic: they lost both games. The good news: they put smiles on each other’s faces and on their Croatian fans on Center Court with two superb performances.

Before today the pair had never played a match together before. Compare that to their opponents, who had experienced over 350 matches under their belts between them in FIVB tournament history.

But at times Fabris and Radanovic looked as though they had been playing together for years against a Canadian team who had played 216 matches as a partnership before the teams stepped out onto the sand on Center Court.

Broder/Valjas took a tight first set 21-14 but a thoroughly entertaining second set had the fans jumping out of their seats. Remember these Croatians had played together just once before – this morning – but they survived a match point before going on to claim the second set at the third time of asking to level the score to produce the biggest cheer of the day and spark wild celebrations.

Unfortunately, despite that momentum, the Croatian’s could not sustain their form in a similarly dramatic tiebreaker, but the girls’ smiling faces afterwards told a happy story.

“The players we have played we’ve watched on television,” said Fabris. “They are going to the Olympics. We were excited before the day and we are happy that we gave it our best in both matches.

“We’ve only been playing for a week and when we won the second set we knew we wanted more – but they are experienced – and that showed – but for us to play like we did in our first ever tournament we are so happy.”

Sara’s verdict?

“Amazing!” she told us. “I don’t know what to say, we’ve played two of the best teams in the world and this tournament is a big deal. I’ve only played beach volleyball for three months but for our first matches together it really is fantastic.”

On Thursday Fabris and Radanovic take on German team Holtwick/Semmler knowing a victory could give them a historic place in the knockout stages.

Good luck girls and see you on Thursday!

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