Rome, Italy, June 18, 2011—After six days and 102 matches the final road to Rome ends Sunday at the Foro Italico stadium with the women’s medal matches concluding the memorable $1 million FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Championships, powered by smart. Sunday evening’s final four consists of Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva playing against USA’s Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh for the gold medal and Czech Republic’s Lenka Hajeckova/Hana Klapalova meeting China’s Chen Xue/Xi Zhang in the bronze medal match.
With competition being held in both genders in Rome, the medal matches will start at 4:30 p.m. Sunday with the two bronze medal matches first followed by the gold medal matches and the pageantry of the awards ceremonies for each gender after their respective finals. Sunny Roman skies bathed the Foro Italico again Saturday as 96 two-person teams representing 31 countries started the competition Monday on five purpose-built courts within the sprawling complex that includes the featured center court within the newly constructed 10,000-seat Rome tennis stadium.
Of the $1 million purse, the gold medal teams in each gender will split $60,000, the silver medal teams $45,000, the bronze medal teams $35,000 and the fourth place finishers will split $28,000.
In the first semifinal of the evening, Brazil’s top-seeded Juliana/Larissa methodically defeated Czech Republic’s 22nd-seeded Hajeckova/Klapalova, 21-14, 21-13 in 32 minutes.
Producing the second team for the finals in the last women’s semifinal, USA’s fifth-seeded May-Treanor/ Walsh took three sets but finally overcame China’s eighth-seeded Xue/Xi Zhang, 21-17, 15-21 and 15-10. In the deciding tie-breaker, the American’s broke open a tight match that was tied seven times up to 7-7 when May-Treanor/Walsh worked some more of their solid blocks and kills to pull away at the end.
Advancing to their third world championship gold medal match the Brazilians are also guaranteed their fourth-straight world championship medal as Juliana/Larissa captured silvers in 2005 at Berlin and 2009 at Stavanger, and a 2007 bronze in Gstaad. Juliana/Larissa are now 6-0 against Hajeckova/Klapalova on the FIVB Swatch World tour.
With the Rome world championships being Juliana and Larissa’s 89th FIVB event since forming their partnership in 2004, the Brazilians will be playing in their 57th international gold medal match. Juliana and Larissa have won two gold medals this season in Brasilia and Sanya to improve their FIVB record title mark to 38 championships. Juliana and Larissa now have 69 career FIVB World Tour medals.
In their semifinal victory, Juliana had 18 kills, three digs, one block and one ace while Larissa’s stats included eight kills in 11 attacks for a .727 hitting percentage, eight digs and two aces.
“I am expecting a tough match tomorrow with the Misty and Kerri there is a beautiful history with us and I am very, very happy especially today because Larissa and I well played together all the time and Larissa stayed close to me,” said Larissa after her semifinal win. “Throughout tonight’s match we were really confident and we’re happy with that and I think that is the secret for tomorrow. Tomorrow I really have to put my heart into it. I think there will be difficult moments. We need to maintain our concentration and keep our eyes open to everything. We will have to play with our heart and forget about problems when we have them and think--‘I’ve come, I’ve trained, I have confidence and I’m here’.”
In a match featuring medal winners from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and while improving their FIVB career record against Xue/Zhang to 8-2, May-Treanor had 22 kills, 17 digs and one ace while Walsh’s stats totaled 10 kills, four digs, four blocks and one ace. Xue had 25 kills, five digs, one block and one ace and Zhang recorded 15 kills, 16 digs and one ace.
It was 10th international meeting with between the two teams as it was also a rematch of the 2007 semifinals at the Gstaad world championships where May-Treanor and Walsh posted a 21-14 and 21-19 win in 40 minutes over Xue and Zhang. May-Treanor and Walsh will be playing in their 47th FIVB gold medal match in 63 tournaments. May-Treanor and Walsh, who captured their 36th FIVB gold medal last week in Beijing, are now guaranteed their 53rd international podium placement. May-Treanor and Walsh, who are 32-1 in world championship matches with a ninth in 2001 (Klagenfurt) and gold medals in 2003 (Rio de Janeiro), 2005 (Berlin) and 2007 (Gstaad), have now compiled a 367-40 (90.2%) match mark since forming their partnership in 2001. The pair did not play together on the FIVB tour in 2009 and 2010 due to injuries and the birth of Walsh’s two sons.
May-Treanor/Walsh hold an 11-5 FIVB career record edge over Juliana/Larissa but the Brazilian’s have won the last two meetings including this year in Brasilia and Sanya. This will be a rematch of the 2005 FIVB Swatch World Championships final in Berlin, won by May-Treanor/Walsh.
Following her team’s semifinal victory, May-Treanor said, “I think any time you have struggles in a tournament and come out with the win that only makes you stronger because in the next match in a similar scenario, you can say ‘ok, we’ve been here before’. So you learn from every experience and you learn what to do and what not to do.”
Walsh was also philosophical after her match, saying, “We were down big in game two and we still felt we were going to win and we still had that faith in ourselves in game two. And even though we lost pretty big in the second set, we carried that confidence into game three and then came out on top.”
The internationally-televised eighth FIVB Swatch World Championships started Monday with 48 men’s and 48 women’s teams and three days of round robin pool play. The women completed their round robin play Wednesday and the men Thursday and the top two teams from each pool along with the best eight third-place teams advanced to the 32-team single elimination phase that will ultimately crown the 2011 FIVB world champions following the medal matches on Sunday evening.
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.
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 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