Beijing, China, May 7, 2012 – Angela Vieira/Liliane Maestrini of Brazil and Melanie Gernert/Anja Gunther from Germany claimed women’s qualification berths at the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour Beijing Grand Slam after respective victories in the country-quota play-offs Monday afternoon.
Vieira/Lili rallied from one set down to beat compatriots Maria Clara Salgado Rufino/Raquel Pellucci 16-21, 21-11 and 15-9 in 48 minutes.
“Brazilian country-quota matches are very hard to play, because we know each other very well. We tried to make our best, to play together, sometimes they were playing better than us, but we can play beautiful game for the crowd and for us. That’s the most important thing,” said Lili.
The victorious Brazilian duo expected to advance to the semifinals at the six-day tournament. “We want semifinal and final, for sure, we expect our best,” Lili added. “We went to the test event in London. It’s a really nice place and we want to play there, but I think it’s difficult now, because Talita/Antonelli and Larissa/Juliana have many points, we just expect to make our best.”
Gernert/Gunther needed two matches in a row to secure their berth in the qualification tournament. Following a 21-18, 21-15 victory over Victoria Bieneck/Julia Grossner, they went on to net a come-from-behind win 20-22, 21-18 and 15-11 against Karla Borger/Brittta Buthe.
Led by defending champions Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego of Brazil and USA’s Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh, the road to the 2012 London Olympic games returned to the site of the 2008 Beijing Olympics for the second straight year of the $600,000 Beijing Grand Slam, the fourth event on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour for both men and women.
With the battle for spots at the London Olympics gaining more momentum, USA’s reigning Olympic champions Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers and May-Treanor/Walsh are leading their respective genders back to Beijing’s Olympic Stadium for the second of an FIVB-record eight grand slam events on the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour.
All podium finishers in each gender from last year are returning to the Chaoyang Park for this week’s Grand Slam. For the men also in China besides Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel are last year’s silver medal winners Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann of Germany and Switzerland’s Jefferson Bellaguarda/Patrick Heuscher. While the other teams are intact, Brink is scheduled to play this year’s tournament with Sebastian Fuchs.
Joining USA’s defending champions May-Treanor/Walsh on the women’s side will be last year’s silver medal winners Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler of Germany and USA’s bronze medalists Jennifer Kessy/April Ross.
Leading the other women’s challengers for a spot on the podium will be China’s Chen Xue/Xi Zhang, bronze medalists at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, who have started this year by winning two of the first three events (Brasilia and Shanghai) and earning a bronze in the other (Sanya). A very close second to Xue/Zhang in this year’s women’s point standings, Brazil’s Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes come to Beijing with three podium finishes this year as well, (silver in Brasilia and Shanghai and gold in Sanya).