Shanghai, China, May 3, 2012 – Laura Ludwig and Sara Goller struggled to find their best form, but eventually made it through to the round of 16, only after they had made hard work negotiating the round of 24 though.
Ludwig (left) and Goller are into the round of 16 at the Shanghai Grand Slam, where they will meet China's Chen Xue and Zhang Xi
After a win and a loss on the opening day of pool play at the Shanghai Grand Slam presented by Jinshan Xinchen, the German pair lost their final pool match, 14-21,16-21 to the Czech Republic’s Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova.
That defeat set up a match with Dutch pair Madelein Meppelink and Sophie van Gestel in the round of 24 and after the Netherlands side won the first set, Goller and Ludwig eventually found their rhythm to finish with a 16-21, 21-11, 15-11 victory.
“After our first match yesterday we felt we played badly and hadn’t found our rhythm,” Ludwig said. “We had a slow start and were a little bit rushed, so we had to catch our breath and refocus three or four times.
“We tried to serve better, put them under pressure and stop putting ourselves under pressure and we did that, so it worked quite well.
Home town favourites
Ludwig and Goller’s victory sets up a round of 16 match against number one seeds and home town favourites Chen Xue and Zhang Xi.
“We would have been out and now we are guaranteed ninth,” Ludwig continued. “Now we can relax because we don’t have anything to lose.”
One side for whom everything has gone smooth so far in China is the fifth seeds April Ross and Jennifer Kessy. Like the Chinese, they went through the pool stages with three wins from three.
“We had a super tough match against Greece in the first match yesterday and it went 32-30 in the second set, but we pulled it off and we were super excited to have half a day off today,” Ross said.
The three wins allowed them to top their pool, avoid the round of 24 and go straight into the round of 16. There they will meet a resurgent Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley.
“They are on fire and playing really good; serving well and blocking well,” Ross added. “It will be tough. They were underdogs and came from behind to beat Italy (Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti), so we are going to have to be at our best to take them down.”
There was a historical result in the women’s pool stages when Vanuatu’s Miller Elwin and Henriette Iatika recorded their first ever win in the main draw of an FIVB Grand Slam.
They recovered from losing the first set to beat the Czech Republic’s Hana Klapalova and Lenka Hajeckova 12-21, 21-17, 15-10.
The win earned Elwin and Iatika a place in the round of 24, but they were unable to record a second victory and lost to Austrian sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger, 11-21, 21-17, 12-15.
The 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour runs over a seven month period and features 12 tournaments for both men and women. For the women the season starts in April in Brazil and ends in October in Thailand.
The US$600,000 Shanghai Grand Slam is the second of nine double gender events and the winners share a $43,500 purse.
It is the eighth straight year in which Shanghai has hosted a women’s FIVB SWATCH World Tour event and the final takes place on 5 May.
Following the completion of the Shanghai Grand Slam the World Tour moves onto to China’s capital for the Beijing Grand Slam from 7-12 May.