Beijing, China, May 8, 2012 – Brazilian country-quota qualifiers Angela Vieira/Liliane Maestrini, Schwaiger sisters of Austria and six other teams advanced to the women’s Main Draw tournament of the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour Beijing Grand Slam after the conclusion of the qualification action here on Tuesday.
Vieira/Liliane, 2-1 winners in Monday’s country-quota match against Maria Clara/Raquel, beat Slovakia’s Dominika Nestarcova/Natalia Dubovcova in straight sets before holding off Swiss tandem Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre 21-13, 17-21, 15-11 for their third straight victory in the Chaoyang Park, the venue of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Erasing early deficits of 5-3 and 7-5 in the third set, Vieira/Liliane came back strongly to level it at 11-all and went on to wrap up the match in 51 minutes.
“We fought hard in the tiebreaker and we were getting stronger towards the end of the match,” said Liliane. “We changed our tactic in the tiebreaker and we made the change earlier than them. All the time it was too hard, the sand was too hot, it’s a good match for both teams.”
Liliane predicted that the competitions in the Main Draw would be even harder. “Nothing is easy, country-quota, qualification and Main Draw, there are so many good teams. We will try to make what we made yesterday and today, we hope to win more matches.”
Seeded No. 1 in the 32-team qualification tournament, Stefanie and Doris Schwaigers also posted a pair of 2-0 wins to secure their berth in the 32-team Main Draw.
“We are glad to be in the Main Draw,” Stefanie said after the 21-15 and 21-14 triumph over Britain’s Zara Dampney/Shauna Mullin. “It’s so hot and the sand is deep, we were lucky that we didn’t have to go to the third set.”
Following a fifth finish in last week’s Shanghai Grand Slam, the Austrian sisters are trying to pick up another top ten finish in Beijing.
“Top ten would be nice, we need good results to stay in Main Draws,” Stefanie added. “We will see who will be our opponents (in the group stage). It won’t be easy, because it’s the Grand Slam. We will need a lit luck and good game and then anything is possible.”
The other teams victorious in the qualification tournament are Ekaterina Khomyakova/Evgenia Ukolova (Russia), Gioria Daniela/Giulia Momoli (Italy), Mayra Garcia/Candelas Bibiana (Mexico), Erika Nystrom/Emilia Nystrom (Finland), Madelein Meppelink/Sophie van Gestel (Netherlands) and Tanja Goricanec/Muriel Graessli (Switzerland).
Featuring two-time Olympic champions Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor of the United States and Beijing Olympic bronze medallists Xue Chen and Zhang Xi from China, the women’s Main Draw tournament will start on Wednesday. Thirty-two teams will play in eight groups with round robin format with top three finishers from each group to advance to the 24-team knockout stage.
Other medal contenders include Larissa/Juliana from Brazil and Jennifer Kessy/April Ross of the United States.
The Chinese capital is welcoming back international beach volleyball for the second straight year since the 2008 Olympic Games and the $600,000 Beijing Grand Slam is 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 a FIVB-record eight grand slam events on the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour.
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