Day 4 of the Men's World League Super Final had a mark of playoff tension. Quarterfinals determined those who would proceed to the semifinals and those who would be playing in consolation round.
USA – CHINA 13-11.
The games without the right for an error carry a special intrigue and nervous tension. The psychological aspect here is often more important than physical fitness. Americans were the first to score and after equal game in the opening minutes took the lead in the second period. However, the Chinese players have shown at this tournament that they know how to close the gap. Today was not an exception – early in the third quarter the star-spangled lost their advantage. Twice in the game Americans were up by a couple of goals, and every time Team China equalized. 8-8 in regulation, and yet another shoot-out lottery. Americans already had a successful series in such a duel at this tournament, and luck favored them again. Two shots denied, final score 13-11 (8-8 in regulation: 2-2, 3-2, 3-1, 0-3), and Team USA advances to the semifinal.
HUNGARY – BRAZIL 8-4.
The match between Group A winner, Team Hungary, and Group B outsider, Team Brazil, was to become the easiest to predict in terms of result and the most laid-back in terms of the development of events. However, in the first period, the South Americans offered a real battle to the Europeans. The first period finished in a draw 2-2 – hardly anyone could expect such a start. Further into the game, the situation did not change much – the Brazilians were, so to say, dying in their last ditch in front of their net. But the Hungarian team had much more class, which allowed them to celebrate a victory 8-4 (3-2, 2-1, 1-0, 2-1) even in such a tangled game. As for the Brazilians, a loss by such a small margin is victory-like, as today’s game was, undoubtedly, their best at the World League Super Final.
JAPAN – SERBIA 8-14.
Team Serbia took on another uncompromising and thus dangerous quarterfinal opponent. Japanese water polo players put Group B winners behind early in the game. Agile samurai successors playing swift combinations and breakaways were an unpleasant surprise for many opponents. However, the Serbs, despite the difference in size, did not lose track of the Japanese on the defensive end while being even more efficient in the offense. That is why after the ‘survey’ in the first period the game turned as predicted – the Serbs were scoring as many as they needed and the Japanese – as many as their rivals allowed. Serbia claims a confident victory 14-8 (3-3, 4-2, 2-1, 5-2).
MONTENEGRO – RUSSIA 12-11.
Russia faced Montenegro in the final match of Day 4 at the Men’s World League Super Final. This quarterfinal turned into a real battle for both teams from the very first whistle blow. For two and a half periods, the Russians kept the lead, but then the Montenegrins equalized, and the score was equal for the entire second half. 7-7 with one minute remaining. The Montenegrins call a time-out before their last attack but the Russian defense denies their tactical efforts. The Russians also fail to succeed in their final offensive raid. A tie in regulation and the third shoot-out series for Team Montenegro at the tournament. Fortune favored the Montenegrins here. Just one error by the Russians brings victory to the Balkan squad 12-11 (7-7 in regulation: 1-3, 2-1, 2-1, 2-2). Team Russia, despite a deserving performance, to their fans’ disappointment, falls short of contending for medals.