Shanghai, China, May 4, 2012 – Sanne Keizer and Marleen Van Iersel kept their defence of the Shanghai title on track, when they reached the semifinals of the Shanghai Grand Slam presented by Jinshan Xinchen.
The Dutch eighth seeds were pushed all the way in their quarterfinal by Spain’s Liliana Fernandez and Elsa Baquerizo to win 21-16, 19-21, 16-14.
In the semifinals Keizer and Van Iersel will play Brazil’s in form Talita Antunes and Maria Antonelli.
Fernandez and Baquerizo,the 16th seeds, were in confident mood after they had knocked out fourth seeds and Olympic champions Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor with a 13-21, 21-14, 15-10 victory and they put up strong resistance after losing the first set.
“I think it was a bit too exciting,” Keizer said. “It is always tough to play against Spain. They are a really good team, but we played well. They are a very good team and always give us problems.”
Keizer and Van Iersel won their first ever FIVB SWATCH World Tour event with success at the 2011 Shanghai Open and they have their eyes on repeating that victory 12 months on.
“We like China, China is like home,” Keizer continued. “We won here last year and the centre court feels like home.”
Even so they had to recover from an opening day in the main draw when they lost both their pool matches and faced the prospect of an early elimination.
“We knew we had a chance to come back because in pool play you can come back, but you have to go the long way and we did,” Keizer said.
“We kept fighting and trying to play our own game and I hope we can play better now we are in the semifinals.”
There were few problems for first seeds and tournament favourites Zhang Xi and Chen Xue, who smoothly progressed to the last four, where they will play 2011 FIVB world champions Juliana and Larissa.
First off they beat Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Sara Goller in straight sets, then repeated the result against Austria’s Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger.
Earlier in 2012 they won bronze at the Sanya Open, but know the expectation is to improve that result at the Jinshan Beach Arena.
“With the tournament being here in China, everyone expects us to win, so we are feeling the pressure,” Zhang Xi said.
“They (the Schwaiger sisters) were very powerful and they are likely to be there at the Olympic Games in London.”
Larissa and Juliana had a far tougher time in the quarterfinals and needed three sets to see off 2009 world champions Jennifer Kessy and April Ross of USA in a tight contest that finished 21-17, 16-21, 18-16.
Even so Zhang Xi is well aware that the Brazilians will present their hardest test so far in Shanghai.
“We were ok, not at our best, but hopefully we will improve for the next match,” Zhang Xi said. “We are still playing together well as partners and communicating well.”
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 started in April in Brazil and ends in October in Thailand.
The $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 May 5.
Following the completion of the Shanghai Grand Slam the World Tour moves onto China’s capital for the Beijing Grand Slam from May 7-12.