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2017-02-11 01:28:00 CEST

The master and the apprentice

Rising star Duda and Olympic silver medalist Agatha are teaching each other new things

High fives after Agatha and Duda reach the Fort Lauderdale Major last eight.High fives after Agatha and Duda reach the Fort Lauderdale Major last eight.

There might be 15 years age difference between Duda and Agatha Bednarczuk but together on the sand they are equal.

After winning silver at the Olympics in Rio with Barbara Seixas, 33-year-old Agatha joined forces with 18-year-old Duda – and at the Fort Lauderdale Major, their first Swatch Major Series event, they’ve stormed into Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Agatha is a veteran of almost 100 tournaments, while Duda is playing in just her 16th. But that isn’t stopping the pair from teaching each other new things as they embark on a beach journey that they hope will lead to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

So, given the difference in experience and age between the two, was Duda nervous ahead of the Fort Lauderdale Major?

“I was very nervous and anxious – not the day before but the day of the first game,” she admitted to us. “Whenever I woke up my heart was beating hard just thinking how I would play alongside Agatha. When the game started we used the energy inside the court – it was unbelievable.

“It’s been very special to play with Agatha because of her experience in international tournaments and also the Olympics. I hope to accomplish a lot with her in four years. Before this partnership, I was very nervous on the court but Agatha’s happiness is contagious. Everything she does is to help me, and it is very important that the connection between us inside the court has been amazing – and it’s been like that since the first training game.”

Duda celebrates as she and Agatha book their quarterfinal spot.Duda celebrates as she and Agatha book their quarterfinal spot.

For 2015 World Champion Agatha, it’s the development of Duda that the Brazilian wants to help nurture.

“It’s a very good experience because everything is new,” she says. “After five years playing with Barbara it’s hard to match with a new partner but Duda and I already have a good chemistry.

“Duda has a big desire of learning new things and of being in a new team. From my experience, I believe that we need someone on our side who wants the same goals and having the same mentality. It’s been great so far playing with her.

“Both of us started the team with a super open mind. Duda came to learn how to do the Olympic cycle, living away from home for the first time and wanting to learn in any way possible train like she never trained before.

“For me I am still very open-minded to learn a lot with her. Just because she is only 18 doesn’t mean she doesn’t have experience. Even during games I do not take my age as an advantage. When Duda tells me something I will do with a lot of pleasure.”

At just 18 Duda’s talents have been well documented. She won two events on the World Tour last year with former teammate Elize Maia and Agatha draws plenty of comparisons with her when she was that age.

“When I was 18 I was in Sao Paulo playing indoor as a setter – it’s completely different from where I am now,” she says. “What I see that we have in common is the desire to win and reminds me a lot of me – that side of determination, the desire to represent Brazil at the Olympics, and to be better than everybody.”

Agatha and Duda face a mouthwatering quarterfinal clash on Saturday when they take on April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings under the floodlights on Center Court at 7pm ET. Make sure you tune in on our BeachStream!

Swatch Major Series on Twitter

A message for the Brazilians. Brasileiros, uma mensagem pra vocês da #Agatha e #Duda #FTLMajor @volei

Women’s Saturday quarterfinal line-up:

Walsh/Ross v Agatha/Barbara
Josi/Lili v Laboureur/Sude
Sweat/Ross v Kolocova/Kvapilova
Barbara/Fernanda v Larissa/Talita

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