Beijing, China, May 10, 2012 – Belgium’s 18th seeds Liesbeth Mouha/Katrien Gielen pulled off a surprising full-set win over Brazilian second seeds Talita Antunes/Maria Antonelli Thursday morning to secure their berth in the women’s top 16 of the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour Beijing Grand Slam.
Mouha/Gielen rallied from one set down to score the 19-21, 21-17, 15-8 victory over Talita/Antonelli, who have had three consecutive podium finishes including one gold and two silvers in the last three events, and finished top of pool B with three straight wins.
“We are so happy to win, they are one of the best teams in the world, we did not expect it,” said Mouha. “Last time when we played against them we lost, this time we just tried our best. Hopefully we’ll do better and better, and we’ll see what happens next.”
Currently placed 20th in the Olympic Qualification Ranking, Mouha/Gielen are striving to get a ticket to this summer’s London Olympic Games. “We need to fight with other teams and this win can bring us a lot of points, it’s very good for us,” Mouha added.
Later on Thursday, Talita/Antonelli ousted Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Hanson of the United States 2-0 to stay in contention.
Top seeds Xue Chen/Zhang Xi of China, third seeds Larissa France/Juliana Felisberta Da Silva from Brazil, sixth seeds Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel of the Netherlands, Germany’s eighth seeds Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig, 21st seeds Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler and Italy’s 10th seeds Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti also qualified for the top 16 round with unbeaten records.
Having captured two gold medals in the Brasilia Open and Shanghai Grand Slam, Xue/Zhang marched on towards their third title of the season after sweeping Spain’s 16th seeds Liliana Fernandez Steiner/Elsa Baquerizo Mcmillan 21-14 and 21-12 to claim the first place of pool A and a bye in the first round of the knockout stage.
“It’s not as easy as it looked like,” said Zhang Xi. “We will concentrate on our game and hopefully continue to play like this in the rest of the tournament.”
Playing their 100th FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour event together, Larissa/Juliana whitewashed Austrian sisters Stefanie and Doris Schwaiger 21-15 and 21-17 to clinch the first place of pool C with a 3-0 win-loss record.
“100 events together, it’s amazing!” said Juliana. “We really like to play well and have good performance here. It’s my best (start) in Beijing of my life, we really like to go to the final in Beijing, we don’t have good memories here and we want to change that this time.”
Larissa/Juliana, who had collected 42 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour titles as a team, are seeking their first championship of this season following a second finish in the Sanya Open and a third in the Shanghai Grand Slam last week.
“It’s really important to win this tournament,” said Juliana. “I know it’s not my best now, but I have to play any way, I have to improve a lot of things. We don’t think about other teams, we will keep our concentration 100 percent.”
Two-time defending Olympic champions and event title holders Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor of the United States defeated 13th seeds Nadine Zumkehr/Simone Kuhn of Switzerland 21-13, 22-20 Thursday morning to share a 2-1 record with Natalie Cook/Tamsin Hinchley of Australia in pool D, but Walsh/May-Treanor went to the top 16 round directly thanks to their triumph in the head-to-head clash of the two teams on Wednesday.
Other teams reaching the women’s top 16 after Thursday afternoon’s first elimination round matches include fifth seeds Jennifer Kessy/April Ross of the United States, seventh seeds Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova of Czech Republic and 20th seeds Natalie Cook/Tamsin Hinchley from Australia.
The women’s Main Draw action of the US$600,000 Beijing Grand Slam will continue on Friday with the finale set for Sunday. The gold medal teams will split US$43,000, the silver US$29,500 and the bronze US$23,000. The men’s round robin will finish on Friday with the third and last round matches.
The Chinese capital is hosting international beach volleyball events for the second straight year since the 2008 Olympic Games and the Beijing Grand Slam is the fourth event on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour for both men and women.
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