Shanghai, China, May 27, 2006 - China joined women’s Beach Volleyball powers Brazil and the United States as the only countries to advance three teams to a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour “final four” here Saturday as top-seeded Juliana Felisberta and Larissa Franca will be challenged by three tandems from the host country for the US$400,000 China Shanghai Jinshan Open gold medal.
The Chinese teams of ninth-seeded Zhang Ying/Zuo Man and 25th-seeded Xue Chen/Zhang Xi each won a pair of elimination matches to gain their first-ever SWATCH-FIVB World Tour semi-final spots where teammates Wang Jie and Tian Jia earned a “final four” berth Friday afternoon.
Juliana and Larissa, who will be seeking their ninth SWATCH title and second this season, will be facing Xue Chen and Zhang Xi for the second-time this week after the Brazilians scored a 21-15 and 21-18 victory over the Chinese pair Friday morning.
In the second semi-final match, Wang Jie and Tian Jia play Zhang Ying and Zuo Man for the first-time competitively this season. While Wang Jie and Tian Jian have played only four matches this week, Zhang Ying and Zuo Man had to win two qualifying matches before playing seven times in the Main Draw to reach the semi-finals.
“Yes, we are tired,” Zuo Man said after defeating fifth-seeded Vassiliki Arvaniti and Vasso Karadassiou of Greece 21-16 and 21-19 in their second match Saturday to gain a “final four” berth. “However, we have a chance for our first international medal, so we will be ready. This is an exciting day for Chinese Beach Volleyball.”
Zhang Ying and Zuo Man, who lost to Xue Chen and Zhang Xi Thursday, posted a 21-17 and 21-19 victory over Australian Olympians and 10th-seeded Natalie Cook and Nicole Sanderson in their first match Saturday. Xue Chen and Zhang Xi’s two wins Saturday were over teams from Brazil, including fourth-seeded Renata Ribeiro and Talita Antunes 21-13 and 21-19 and second-seeded Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede 21-18- 13-21 and 15-10.
Brazil, the only country on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour to advance four teams to an event semi-final (men six times, women twice), had had three tandems earn “final four” spots at 35 men’s and 24 women’s events. The United States accomplished the feat 15 times (once by the American men, and 14 times by the women).
As for dominating a SWATCH podium by claiming all three medals, Brazil has accomplished the feat 31 times (18 men and 13 women). The Brazilians were denied a 32nd podium sweep when Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos were defeated by Germany’s Julius Brink and Christoph Dieckmann 19-21, 22-20 and 16-14 in the men’s bronze medal match. The United States captured all three medals at a SWATCH once at a 2004 women’s event at Stavanger, Norway.