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

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China Records First Win at Men's China Open
LIANYUNGANG, China, May 21, 2004 - Ninth seeds Xu Linyin and Xu Qiang recorded China's first victory at the 2004 Swatch -FIVB World Tour Men's China Open here on Friday by beating Raul Papaleo and Ramon Hernandez from Puerto Rico in straight sets.

"We are very excited to claim the first victory of China," Xu Qiang said after notching the 21-12 and 21-16 victory over the 24th-seeded Puerto Ricans in the opening round of the 32-team Main Draw of the third men's event on the 2004 Swatch-FIVB World Tour.

"We did not think too much, just trying to play game by game," Xu added.

Xu Linyin and Xu Qiang, who placed 114th on the men's world rankings, then fought bravely against Olympic gold medallist Dain Blanton and Jeff Nygaard of the United States in the second round of the winner's bracket before going down 22-20, 21-17.

Blanton, who won the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics with Eric Fonoimoana, thought their opponents had great potential.

"They are tall, they played very good defence," said Blanton. "They made it a hard game for us."

Blanton, who will meet top seeds Ricardo Santos and Emanuel Rego from Brazil in the third round of the winner's bracket Saturday morning, vowed to win the championship at the first international men's beach volleyball event that has been held in China.

"We want to win," Blanton said. "We beat them (Ricardo and Emanuel) in February at the US-Brazil Challenge Tournament and we will try to beat them again."

Ricardo and Emanuel, the world number one tandem who captured the title at the opening event of the 2004 season in Brazil, cruised into the third round of the Main Draw with victories over Chinese duo Wu Penggen/Yin Rui and Eric Fonoimoana/Kevin Wong of the United States.

Other teams advancing into the third round included third seeds Paul Laciga/Martin Laciga and fourth seeds and Patrick Heuscher/Stefan Kobei from Switzerland.