Aland, Finland, August 17, 2011 — FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour leaders Juliana Felisberta and Larissa Franca showed that they were in no mood to relinquish their grip on first place with two wins from two on the opening day of the women’s main draw at the Paf Open in Aland.
With Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh breathing down their necks in the World Tour rankings, the Brazilian duo knew that they had to start brightly and they did just that.
First up the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch world champions saw off Swedish pair Camilla Nilsson and Tora Hansson 21-13, 21-14. Then they beat compatriots Taiana Lima and Vivian Cunha with a 21-17, 21-18 victory.
Despite the two wins from two games the pair felt there was room for improvement.
“I didn’t think we played so good, but we won and the most important thing was to win,” Juliana said. “It was good though. We dug well and won some important sideout points. Overall it was good.”
May-Treanor and Walsh began their bid for a fourth 2011 World Tour win in similar fashion. Having won the most recent World Tour event in Klagenfurt two weeks ago, the pair were in confident form and comfortably beat Georgia’s Cristine Santanna and Andrezza Martins 21-19, 21-12.
In the second round the Olympic champions were made to fight hard against Switzerland’s Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr, but dug deep to finish with a 21-16, 21-19 win.
China’s Chen Xue and Xi Zhang are still looking for their first World Tour win of the year and also began with a brace of victories.
Firstly they defeated Kazakhstan pair Tatyana Mashkova and Irina Tsimbalova 21-13, 21-10. In their second match they dropped the first set to Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley, before they rediscovered their poise to win 17-21, 21-15, 15-13.
Cook, the 2000 Olympic champion and Hinchley still have a chance of reaching the latter stages due to the double elimination system giving them another chance of progressing. They will now meet the United States’ Brooke Hanson and Lauren Fendrick, with the losing team being knocked out.
One team not going further in the competition is the newly crowned European champions Marta Menegatti and Greta Cicolari, who lost both their matches.
The Italians began well against Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova and took the first set, but the Russian’s fought back to win 18-21, 21-17, 15-12.
In their loser’s playoff, Menegatti and Cicolari again faced a Russian team in the form of Anastasia Vasina and Anna Vozakova. However, the effort of winning the continental crown had taken its toll and the more energetic Russian side won 21-19, 21-17.
The women’s main draw at the Paf Open concludes with finals on Saturday, August 20. It is the 13th stage of the 15 tournament FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, which concludes at the Phuket Thailand Open powered by PTT in Phuket from November 1 to 6.