Rome, Italy, June 13, 2011—With all the many and varied roads having finally reached Rome, fierce action on the sand began Monday at the $1 million FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Championships, powered by smart, being held through Sunday at the historic Foro Italico complex in the heart of the eternal city. Women’s action in the double-gender event saw the first 16 of three days of round robin pool play matches played under mostly sunny Roman skies as 96 two-person teams representing 34 countries are competing on five purpose-built courts within the sprawling complex including the featured center court within the newly constructed 10,000-seat tennis stadium.
The internationally-televised eighth FIVB Swatch World Championships features 48 teams in each gender split into 12 four-team pools to start the event. With the women completing their round robin play Wednesday and the men Thursday, the top two teams from each pool along with the best eight third-place teams will emerge into the single elimination phase that will ultimately crown the 2011 FIVB world champions following the medal matches on Sunday evening.
Among the early round robin winners in the women’s tournament included Germany’s seventh-seeded Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig and top-seeded Brazilians Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca.
Goller/Ludwig, who are playing in their fourth FIVB Swatch World Championship after finished ninth in the 2009 FIVB Swatch World Championships in Stavanger, Norway, increased their career FIVB record to 6-0 against German compatriots Geese Banck/Anja Gunther after being extended to three sets, 21-18, 18-21 and 15-9 in 53 minutes on the Foro Italico center court.
In their opening match of the tournament, Juliana/Larissa quickly dispatched the youngest team in the tournament, Italy’s Giada Benazzi/Biktoria Orsi Toth, 21-7, 21-9 in just 27 minutes. Striking with a vengeance after finishing just 17 in last week’s Beijing Grand Slam in China, the Brazilians increased their 2011 match record to 20-4 for the season as they pursue their fourth consecutive season point championship and first FIVB world championship.
Following their three-set opening win over another German team, Ludwig, who had 17 digs, 34 attacks and 19 kills in her match, commented, “It was a hard-fought match, but we are feeling really good about how we played. We haven’t played them since 2009 and we knew it would be a good fight. There was definitely more pressure on us than them, but especially in the first and third sets we served very well. We have been working very hard on all the little elements of our game and I think it is all coming together at the right time.”
Juliana and Larissa are looking for their first FIVB Swatch World Championships after earning silver medals in 2009 and 2005 along with a bronze medal in 2007. Reflecting on their win, Juliana said afterwards, “This was our first match so it was a good beginning of the tournament for us. I like Italy and enjoy taking part in the FIVB Swatch World Championships. We have been on the podium three times but never on top. We hope this year will be able to reach the top.”
Goller/Ludwig’s will return to center court on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. to face Australia’s 18th-seeded Louise Bawden/Becchara Palmer. Bawden/Palmer defeated a team from the Netherlands in two sets in their opening match on Monday.
Juliana/Larissa will play again at 8 p.m. on Tuesday night on court 3 against 25th-seededRabekka Kadijk/Merel Mooren, who lost Monday to Bawden/Palmer.
Other first day women’s winners included Brazil’s second-seeded Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes, fourth-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel of the Netherlands, China’s eighth-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang and Greece’s 19th-seeded Vasiliki Arvaniti/Maria Tsiartsiani. Also winning their opening matches Monday were a pair of sister teams Austria’s sixth-seeded Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger and Finland’s 21st-seeded Emilia and Erika Nystrom.
The previous FIVB Swatch World Championships in the current format were held in Los Angeles (1997), Marseille, France (1999), Klagenfurt, Austria (2001), Rio de Janeiro (2003), Berlin (2005), Gstaad, Switzerland (2007) and Stavanger, Norway (2009). The first FIVB World Championships were held in Brazil in 1987, prior to the start of the current format that began in 1997.
The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour calendar features 15 women's and 14 men's events within all five FIVB confederations plus one special 24-team single-gender women’s test event held August 9-14 at London’s Horse Guards Parade, the venue for beach volleyball at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour is offering $7.64-million in prize money. Twelve of the tournaments are combined men's and women's events, including the World Championships and all six Grand Slam stops.
After the FIVB Swatch World Championships, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour takes one week off before it continues with three consecutive Grand Slam double-gender events: June 27 to July 3 in Stavanger, Norway (ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011), July 4-9 in Gstaad, Switzerland (1 to 1 Energy Grand Slam) and July 11-16 in Moscow (Moscow Grand Slam). The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000. Also on the international calendar during this window and immediately following the FIVB Swatch World Championships will be the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Youth World Championships, for players under 19 years old, June 21-26 in Umag, Croatia.
The 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Championships media guide is now available online in the media section of each gender’s tournament page. More information on this year’s FIVB Swatch World Championships presented by smart is available both www.fivb.org and at www.beachvolleyroma.com.
For more information contact:
FIVB Press Department Director
+41 79 603 3926