Alison and Guto pose after their victory at the Foro Italico

With just three days of play remaining in Rome, two-time world champion Alison Cerutti is back in the quarterfinals of a Beach Volleyball World Championship after he and Brazilian partner Gustavo ‘Guto’ Carvalhaes progressed through the Round of 16 of this year’s tournament on Thursday. Three other Brazilian teams were also successful, earning the South American country four of eight quarterfinal berths in the men's event.

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The 36-year-old blocker, who won his first world title in 2011, in Rome, with the legendary Emanuel Rego, and took the top of the podium again in 2015 with Bruno Schmidt (also his partner when he won gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics), is competing in a seventh consecutive edition of the World Championships after debuting with a second-place finish back in 2009.

Alison and Guto won four of their five matches at the Foro Italico to secure a spot among the eight best teams of the tournament. In the Round of 16, the Brazilians dominated Chilean cousins Marco and Esteban Grimalt to a two-set (24-22, 21-17) win on centre court.

“The Grimalts are good friends, but when we enter the court, we’re all fighting for our countries,” Alison told Volleyball World after the match. “Playing another World Championship here in Rome, where I won my first title 11 years ago, and returning to the stadium and seeing the people, is really special. It feels amazing to be back. Guto was perfect today and we’re looking forward to our next matches.”


Guto hits during the match against the Chileans

Things won’t get any easier for Alison and Guto in the quarterfinals as the Brazilians will face reigning Olympic champions Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway. The Beach Volley Vikings secured their fifth-straight victory in Rome on Thursday, when they downed Austrians Robin Seidl and Philipp Waller in three sets (18-21, 21-18, 15-9).

“Playing with Alison has been amazing, I’ve been learning so much just in terms of staying calm in big moments and how to use my experience,” Guto added. “The Norwegians are a great team and have won the Olympic gold medal, but my partner did it too and we’ll go for it. It’s a 50-50 match and let’s see how it plays out.”


Ecstatic Vitor and Renato celebrate their Round of 16 victory

Fellow Brazilians Vitor Felipe and Renato Lima frustrated Italian fans after they eliminated Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Paolo Nicolai and his new partner Samuele Cottafava from the World Championships.

The two teams met in front of thousands of Italian fans and the 31-year-old Vitor and the 22-year-old Renato, who’s playing in the event for the first time, upset the Italians in a hard-fought, three-set (11-21, 21-19, 15-13) battle. They will now play Estonians Mart Tiisaar and Kusti Nolvak, who advanced automatically after Americans Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb forfeited their Round of 16 match.

“It’s my first World Championship and I can’t even explain how I feel right now,” Renato commented. “I know it’s not over yet and that we have to prepare for tomorrow’s match, but I want to enjoy it a little bit. I’m very happy that Brazil was able to qualify four teams for the quarterfinals. I grew up watching guys like Alison and Bruno play and it feels incredible that we’re now here representing our country together.”

Brazil is already guaranteed a team in the semifinals as two duos from the country are set to clash in the quarterfinals. World ranking leaders Andre Loyola and George Wanderley progressed through the Round of 16 with a comfortable, straight-set (21-15, 21-15) victory against Australians Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis and will now face Bruno Schmidt and Saymon Barbosa, who eliminated Tokyo Olympic bronze medallists Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan of Qatar with a hard-fought, two-set (21-19, 21-19) win.

In the only quarterfinal matchup not featuring a Brazilian team, Theo Brunner and Chaim Schalk will face 2013 world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen. The Americans won a three-set (20-22, 21-17, 15-11) thriller against Polish Piotr Kantor and Maciej Rudol in the Round of 16 while the Dutch topped Italians Daniele Lupo and Alex Ranghieri in two sets (21-18, 21-13).

Friday's schedule in Rome will feature all four quarterfinal duels, with the all-Brazilian match taking place in the afternoon and the other three during the night session. The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday and the medal matches for Sunday.