Modena, Italy, May 13, 2006 - Teams from Brazil and Greece won opening elimination matches here Saturday afternoon at the $200,000 Play Station Portable Italian Open in the season opening event on the 2006 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour.
Fifth-seeded Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede of Brazil, who are playing in in 100th SWATCH event and seeking their 32nd gold medal on the international circuit, scored a 21-12 and 21-17 win over the 24th-seeded Schwaiger (Doris and Stefanie) sisters of Austria. For the Schwaigers, the seventh-place finish was their best on the SWATCH tour and matched the best-ever performance by an Austrian team internationally.
With the win, Adriana and Shelda face fourth-seeded Rachel Wacholder and Elaine Youngs of the United States with the winner challenging second-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil in Saturday’s first semi-final match. The Americans have won the only meeting between the two teams with a 21-15 and 21-13 win last season in Acapulco over Adriana and Shelda.
The second-semi-final qualifying match had sixth-seeded Vassiliki Arvaniti and Vasso Karadassiou of Greece posting a 20-22, 21-14 and 15-13 win over the 12th-seeded Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara) to get a second chance against 22th-seeded Wang Jie and Tian Jia of China. During Thursday’s opening Main Draw rounds, the Chinese scored a 21-15 and 21-16 win over the Greeks.
“They played great against us Thursday,” said Karadassiou about the Chinese. “We did not know much about them as a team, but we know that Tian Jia is a great player. Her new partner played well. They will be a force on this tour. We have to play a lot better and more consistent to defeat them this afternoon.”
The winner of the China-Greece match will face top-seeded Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States in the second semi-final match Saturday night. May-Treanor and Walsh advanced to the semi-finals by defeating Wacholder and Youngs Friday night after Juliana and Larissa downed the Chinese.
The eighth annual Play Station Portable Italian Open concludes Sunday when the final two teams compete for the $32,000 first-place prize. Round two on the women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour will be staged May 24-28 in Shanghai where the men open their international season a day earlier. The SWATCH circuit returns to Europe May 31-June 4 in Athens (women) and Zagreb (men).