Men's China Open 2004
Lianyungang, May 19-23

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Canada and France Pace Qualifying Winners at Men?s China Open
LIANYUNGANG, China, May 19, 2004 - Two teams apiece from Canada and France claimed elimination bracket victories here on Wednesday at the opening round of the 30-team Qualification Tournament for the 2004 Swatch-FIVB World Tour Men's China Open.

Canadians John Child and Jody Allan Holden, the third seeds in the 30-team Qualification Tournament, beat Antonio Rondon and Osualdo Barraras from Puerto Rico 21-19 and 21-11 while their compatriots Conrad Leinemann/Richard Van Huizen swept past Chinese Gao Fangtian and Han Shengwei 21-14 and 21-16. Sixth seeds Ogier Molinier/Guilherm Deulofeu and eighth seeds Kevin Ces/Yannick Salvetti, both from France, recorded easy victories over Sweden's Peter Hagg/Ola Kvist and China's Yang Yajie/Wang Lian respectively.

China, who have three teams placed in the Main Draw, had all three of their teams eliminated from the Qualification Tournament Wednesday following Zhang Zhenyu and Pan Bing's straight-sets defeat to Max Backer and Emiel Boersma of the Netherlands on Wednesday afternoon.

A total of 14 elimination matches were played on Wednesday with three teams making seed break-throughs. Seeded 20th in the 30-team men's Qualification Tournament, Agus Salim and Koko Darkuncoro of India came from one set down to beat 13th-seeded Russians Sergey Sayfulin and Mikhall Kouchnerev 26-28, 21-14 and 21-19 to keep alive their hopes of making the Main Draw. Earlier on Wednesday, New Zealanders Kirk Pitman and Jason Lochhead, the 21-seeds, surprised 12th-seeded Mario Silva and Miguel Xisto from Angola 21-18 and 21-10. The other upset came from an all-Japanese fight where 22th-seeded Hayato Kirlhara/Shinpel Aoki ousted 11th-seeded Kentaro Asahi/Koichi Nishimura.

With the win, Kirlhara and Aoki face Monilier and Deulofeu of France on Thursday afternoon with the winner advancing to the 32-team Main Draw for the third men's event on the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour. The Main Draw starts Friday morning with the finals scheduled for Sunday.

Americans Todd Rogers and Sean Scott, the top seeds in the Qualification Tournament who had a bye on Wednesday, will play Thursday against South Africa's 16th seeds Gershon Rorich/Colin Pocock, 21-13, 14-21 and 15-10 winners over Saulko Pavel/Zabuslayev Pavel from Kazakhstan in the first round, for a berth in "money" rounds.

The two-day Qualification Tournament will place the final eight teams in the Main Draw of the $180,000 China Open where 24 tandems from 13 countries are confirmed.