Myslowice, Poland, May 21, 2011 – Fourteenth seeds Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti from Italy and sixth seeds Sanne Keizer and Marleen Van Iersel from the Netherlands, looking for back-to-back Swatch FIVB World Tour titles, secured two and three do-or-die victories respectively on Saturday for a place in the final of the $190,000 Myslowice Open on Sunday as both teams progressed through the losers bracket to reach only their first and second finals on the Tour respectively.
A great block from Germany's Sara Goller on Marta Menegatti but it was the Italians who caused the upset and won through to Sunday's final
Cicolari/Menegatti lead the head to head 2-0 including a 2-0 (21-18, 21-19) win in round three on Friday.
In an incredible day of upsets which continued the trend of the tournament and saw both teams - American world champions and second seeds Jennifer Kessy and April Ross and fourth seeds Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig of Germany - who had only one semifinal match to play lose, Brazilian number one seeds Antonelli/Talita were the first to fall despite making light work of their first opponents Austria’s Stefani and Doris Schwaiger in their first losers bracket match, winning 2-0 (21-14, 21-17) in 27 minutes. But the world number three came unstuck against Cicolari/Menegatti losing 2-1 (19-21, 21-17, 15-13) in their second match of the day.
The Italians left their next opponents Goller and Ludwig, little to celebrate on Goller’s 27th birthday, making the fourth seeds fight for every point in the three set match which ended 2-1 (26-24, 19-21, 15-11) after 55 minutes in favour of Cicolari/Menegatti.
“We are very happy because we played well,” Cicolari, 28, said. “They were difficult opponents but I think adrenalin got us through. Last year I had two injuries to my knee so I couldn’t play too much. This year I have practiced and trained a lot and the best way to win is this.”
Goller/Ludwig, who started the semifinal as hot favourites having beaten the Italians, whose best previous result was a fourth place finish at the Sanya Open in 2009, three times out of four before Saturday, will now compete for third and fourth place against Kessy and Ross.
“They played really well, and they served well,” Goller said. “We did not serve well enough. A couple of blocks went through my hands, we did not serve well.”
Fresh from the success of their first title in Shanghai, Keizer/Van Iersel were unstoppable defeating three opponents on the trot knocking USA’s double Olympic champion Kerri Walsh and her new partner Brittany Hochevar out of the competition 2-0 (21-15, 18-21) in 44 minutes.
The world number six went on to beat world number two Kessy and Ross in two sets 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) and set up a meeting in the final with Cicolari and 20-year-old Menegatti. Earlier in the day they made light work of the 2008 Myslowice Open winners - the Salgado sisters from Brazil 2-0 (28-26, 21-14).
“They are a really strong team but we played really solid,” Van Iersel said. “We served clean. My serving is one of my strengths and no matter what happened I served well. This put pressure on them.
“We have lost to them [Cicolari/Menegatti] before. This is a good tournament and we are eager to beat them.”
“We played awful and the weather changing about 16 times during the match which didn’t help,” Kessy said. “The rain affected our serve, we missed 10 serves, which was bad. They [Van Iersel/Keizer] played really well and served tough, I have no idea how they served so well in the weather.”
“Like all the European players these girls [Van Iersel/Keizer] have beautiful hand setting,” Walsh, the Tours most successful player with 39 career wins to her name, said after losing to the Dutch pair. “They are a really good team. They make the court feel small. We were not setting out consistently. We let them set the pace and take control. There were lots of missed opportunities and when you play a great team you need to take advantage of them. We did not do that, we got a little tentative.”
The Myslowice Open, which takes place May 17-22, is the second single-gender event on this year’s circuit and the fourth overall for women after stops in Brasilia, Sanya and Shanghai.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2011, the international beach volleyball circuit is in Myslowice for the fourth consecutive season and the eighth straight year in Poland. The Myslowice Open, being played at the Summer Sports Resort, will be the second time and first since 2008 that a women’s FIVB Swatch World Tour event will be held in the southwestern Polish community. It is also the seventh time in the last six years that the women will play in Poland.
The second FIVB Swatch World Tour event in Poland for the fourth consecutive year will be the $600,000 Mazuri Orlen Grand Slam to be held from July 25 to 31 in Stare Jablonki. The Stare Jablonki event is the fifth of six double-gender Grand Slam events on the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour schedule.
While the women compete in Myslowice, the men are taking part in the Prague Open in the Czech Republic from Tuesday to Sunday.