Sanya, China, April 28, 2011 — Defending two-time Olympic champions Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor of the United States and top seeds Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca from Brazil along with six other women’s teams remained unbeaten after the first day of Main Draw competition at the Sanya Open presented by Olympic Bay in China, the second event of the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour.
However, fourth seeds Laura Ludwig/Sara Goller of Germany were surprisingly knocked out of the double-elimination tournament after dropping both of their matches on Thursday while 22nd-seeded Mayra Garcia/Candelas of Mexico produced the day's second upset by sending 2008 Sanya Open winners USA's April Ross/Jennifer Kessy to the losers bracket, beating the duo in three sets in their second round match.
Having their FIVB record 80-game winning streak snapped by Larissa/Juliana in the final of the Brazilia Open last Friday, May-Treanor/Walsh soon recovered to post a pair of straight set wins in the single-gender event, beating Germany’s 28th seeds Jana Kohler/Julia Sude and the 12th-seeded Maria Clara Salgado/Carolina Salgado from Brazil.
“We lost but we’d like to meet them (Larissa/Juliana) again here and we’re gonna beat them,” said Walsh defeating Maria Clara/Carol 21-17 and 21-12 in 38 minutes. “Sure we’re confident to win the gold medal.”
Larissa/Juliana, who have won five of the last six season’s championships on the international tour as well as the season-opening Brasilia Open last week, tamed 2009 Sanya Open champions Simone Kuhn/Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland 21-14 and 21-15 in 33 minutes following a hard fought opening victory over Puerto Rico’s Yarleen Santiago/Dariam Acevedo.
“I love the unique weather here apart from the high temperature," Larissa said. "We have to try hard to play, as some of our counterparts are pretty strong like Walsh and May."
“The hot weather impacted our concentration a little, but I do enjoy the process of collaborating with Larissa, and we communicate a lot during and after the match, which is of great importance," Juliana added. "We hope to win the final match, so we have to move forward step by step.”
Defending Sanya Open champions and second seeds Chen Xue/Xi Zhang of China and third-seeded Brazilian duo Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes have also won two matches in a row and join Marleen Van Iersel/Sanne Keizer (Netherlands), Angie Akers/Nicole Branagh (USA) and Russian qualifiers Ekaterina Khomyakova/Anna Vozakova as the other unbeaten tandems.
The Main Draw tournament of the US$190,000 Sanya Open will continue on Friday and Saturday with the finale set for Sunday. The gold medal teams will split US$30,000, the silver US$21,000 and the bronze US$15,000.
The tournament is the first of three single-gender events for women on the 2011 calendar, which also includes two single-gender events for men along with 12 double-gender events and a special 24-team Olympic test even in London August 9-14.