Steve Larkin / AAP News
The Australian men’s beach volleyball duo have progressed to the semi-finals of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Australian beach volleyballers Chris McHugh and Paul Burnett have survived a Sri Lankan scare to advance to the Commonwealth Games semi-finals.
McHugh and Burnett dropped their first set of the tournament in Friday’s quarter-final, but recovered to down Sri Lanka’s Jayasinghe Rashmika and Yapa Malintha Ya 16-21 21-16 15-9.
The victory sets up a semi-final against surprise packets from Rwanda, Venuste Gatsinzi and Olivier Ntagengwa.
The Rwandans upset New Zealand’s 2018 Commonwealth bronze medallists Sam O’Dea and Brad Fuller in straight sets, 21-18 21-19, in their quarter-final.
Australia’s McHugh, who won gold at the 2018 Games with Damien Schumann, and Burnett struggled early against the Lankans, who crafted a five-point break early in the first set which they maintained.
The Australian duo hit back in the second set with Burnett’s powerful serve – his fastest effort was clocked at 91km/h – particularly damaging before they&n bsp;closed out victory with an emphatic third set.
“Once we settled in and got the nerves out of the way, we played pretty good overall,” McHugh said.
“It’s a real credit to them (Sri Lanka) and a real credit to Commonwealth federation sport that the sport has come so far in four years.
“You saw Rwanda this morning beat New Zealand and Sri Lanka really stuck it to us today.
“So we’re really happy to get through to the next round.”
Burnett said that after the early fright, he and McHugh regained their composure.
“We recognised what they were trying to do to us,” Burnett said of the Lankans.
“And we made some adjustments and were able to respond to their strategy and execute a bit better in the second and third.”
Australia’s women’s pair of Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy cruised past Scotland’s Melissa Coutts and Lynne Beattie in their quarter-final.
The Australians, who claimed the silver medal four years a go on the Gold Coast, won the opening set 21-11 after a hot streak of winning a dozen consecutive points and then took the second set 21-11.