Warsaw, Poland, September 1, 2006 - Alexandra Shiryaeva and Natalya Uryadova gained Russia’s first-ever “final four” berth in the 15-year history of the women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour here Friday in US$200,000 GE Money Bank Warsaw Open.
The 11th women’s SWATCH stop this season and 145th since the start of the women’s international Beach Volleyball circuit in August 1992, the 20th-seeded Shiryaeva and Uryadova posted their third upset win in four GE Money Bank Warsaw Open matches with a 21-17, 16-21 and 15-13 in 48 minutes over top-seeded Leila Barros and Ana Paula Connelly of Brazil.
A “wild card” Main Draw entry after winning the 2006 European continental title last Sunday in the Netherlands, Shiryaeva and Uryadova are now guaranteed a fourth-place finish to better their previous best SWATCH placement of seventh at the June 2005 Italian Open in Milan.
“We always prepare to win a match,” said Shiyaeva, “but it is unbelievable that we are in our first semi-final of a world tour event. Last week, we couldn’t believe our result at the European Championships. We are excited about our play, but we are already thinking of the next game.”
Second-seeded Tian Jia and Wang Jie of China joined Shiryaeva and Uryadova in the semi-finals for this week’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour women’s event after both teams won a pair of matches each Friday. Tian Jia and Wang Jie were advancing to their seventh “final four” in 11 international starts this season by defeating third-seeded Chinese rival Xue Chen and Zhang Xi 21-15 and 25-23.
Tian Jia and Wang Jie, who won the last SWATCH women’s event 27 days ago in Klagenfurt, Austria, have now won five-straight meetings with Xue Chen and Zhang Xi since losing to the younger Chinese tandem May 28 in the finals of the Shanghai SWATCH stop.
Norway still has two teams remaining in contention for the $32,000 first-place prize along with tandems from Austria and Cuba. All four Beach Volleyball pairs will be seeking their first-ever “final four” finishes as both Norwegian teams have posted fifths along with seventh-seeded Milagros Crespo and Imara Esteves Ribalta of Cuba.
The 16th-seeded Schwaiger sisters (Doris and Stefanie) of Austria have already matched their career best SWATCH placement entering their Saturday morning elimination match against 23rd-seeded Susanne Glesnes and Kathrine Maaseide of Norway. The Austria/Norway winners will play Leila and Ana Paula for a spot in Saturday afternoon’s semi-finals against Tian Jia and Wang Jie.
Eighth-seeded Nila Ann Hakedal/Ingrid Torlen of Norway play the Cubans in Saturday’s first elimination match with the victors challenging Xue Chen and Zhang Xi for a spot in the after semi-finals against Shiryaeva and Uryadova.
The first women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event to be held in Poland, GE Money Bank Warsaw Open concludes Sunday with the medal matches. Following this week’s event, the women’s international circuit takes next week off before resuming September 13-17 in the Madeira Islands at Porto Santo.