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2018-03-01 02:12:00 CET

Lupo/Nicolai kick-off season in style

Hard-working Italians too good for US wildcards

Paolo Nicolai and partner Daniele Lupo were inspired form against the AmericansPaolo Nicolai and partner Daniele Lupo were inspired form against the Americans

Olympic silver medalists Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo got their 2018 season off to the perfect start with a straight sets win over American wildcards Casey Patterson and Stafford Slick.

The Italians, who claimed World Tour Finals bronze last season, were in impressive form as they secured a 21-16, 21-17 victory under the Red Bull Beach Arena floodlights.

What’s more it was the Europeans’ first victory in a Beach Major Series event in Fort Lauderdale after they missed last season’s tournament 12 months ago.

“It’s always good to win, especially when it’s your first game of the season,” said blocker Nicolai after the night session game in Pool E. “Sometimes when you start a season you don’t always feel so good, it’s strange coming back to competing but it’s good to start with a win.

“We know every game is tough but we’ll come back again tomorrow.”

The two-time European champions are also aiming to become the first team from the continent to win a World Tour tournament on US sand in 22 years.

And Nicolai says the duo’s preparation over the off-season should go some way to ending that record.

“The first part of the off-season was great – because we had a rest!” joked the 29-year-old. “We then came back and worked very hard because we want to do even better than we did last season.

“There’s no special ingredient. Every team does it – it’s called hard work.”

The Italians will now face Latvians Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins for a place in the last 16 at high noon on Thursday. That’s a game you can watch live on BeachStream! Click here to sign-up!

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