Beijing, China, June 8, 2011 – Two-time defending Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States suffered a shock opening loss at the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour Beijing Grand Slam on Wednesday morning before bouncing back to improve to an 1-1 record in the first stage round robin competitions of the Main Draw.
Brazilian top seeds Larissa França and Juliana Felisberta Da Silva and Beijing bronze medallists Xue Chen/Zhang Xi of China led six unbeaten teams after two rounds of round robin play.
Coming back to the Beijing Olympic beach volleyball venue at the Chaoyang Park for the first time since 2008, fifth seeded May-Treanor/Walsh lost to 12th seeded compatriots Angela Akers and Nicole Branagh 21-19, 17-21 and 15-13 before sweeping Mexico’s 28th seeds Mayra Garcia/Candelas Bibiana 21-8 and 21-18 in the afternoon.
“I was very sad this morning, frustrated, because we had chances but we made silly mistakes,” said Walsh. “As a team they were playing well.”
Walsh is reunited with May-Treanor for the first time since the Sanya Open where Misty May-Treanor suffered a knee injury which forced her out of the following events in Shanghai, China and Myslowice, Poland. Despite the opening defeat, May-Treanor said she was fit to play.
“(On whether she was affected by the knee injury) It’s OK, just mistakes by us,” said May-Treanor. “It’s the first match of the day, maybe we were a little bit tentative. So we want to turn around and come back.”
May-Treanor would love to repeat their title-winning feat three years ago at the Chaoyang Park. “We want to win in Beijing, we have a lot of great memories here. We won it three years ago and we want to do that again.”
“This year our main goal is London 2012, so each time we step on the court we just want to improve and get better and learn from our mistakes. We definitely learned from our mistakes this morning and came out totally different this second match. We just want to keep improving each tournament, each match, but of course we want to win, and so do the rest of the teams.”
Larissa/Juliana also eyed the gold medal after posting a pair of wins over 32nd seeds Madelein Meppelink and Marloes Wesselink of the Netherlands (24-22, 21-13) and 17th seeds Louise Bawden and Becchara Palmer from Australia (21-14, 21-13).
“It’s very good to win two games in a row,” said Larissa. “Here is very special because of the Beijing Olympic Games, I hope to win this tournament.”
The eighth seeded Zhang/Xue defeated Huang Ying and Yue Yuan 21-19, 21-19 in an All-Chinese match on Wednesday morning and went on to tame Italy’s 25th seeds Gioria Daniela/Giulia Momoli 21-16, 21-16.
Other teams that remained unbeaten in the women’s Main Draw are Jennifer Kessy/April Ross (3) and Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Hanson (13) of the United States, Doris Schwaiger/Stefanie Schwaiger of Austria (6) and Germany’s Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig (7).
Fourth seeds Marleen Van Iersel and Sanne Keizer from the Netherlands, who have snatched successive gold medals in Shanghai and Myslowice, dropped two matches in a row to 29th seeds Rieke Brink-Abeler/Angelina Grun of Germany and 20th seeds Hana Klapalova/Lenka Hajeckova from the Czech Republic. The Dutch women need to win their last group match on Thursday to stay in contention.
Thirty-two teams are playing a single round robin in eight groups with top three finishers from each group to advance to the 24-team knockout stage. The women’s round robin will finish on Thursday with the third and last round matches.
The Chinese capital is welcoming back international beach volleyball for the first time since the 2008 Olympic Games and the inaugural $600,000 Beijing Grand Slam is the third of 12 double-gender events on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, which also includes three single-gender events for women, two single-gender events for men and a special 24-team Olympic test event in London August 9-14.