11, 2012 – Four of the top five seeds, including home favorites Xue Chen/ Zhang
Xi and two-time defending Olympic champions Kerri Walsh/ Misty May-Treanor of
the United States, crashed out of the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World
Tour Beijing Grand Slam on Friday.
But reigning world champions and third seeds Larissa Franca and
Juliana Felisberta Da Silva of Brazil stayed on course for their first title of
the season with consecutive straight-sets wins.
Xue/ Zhang, who took two titles and a bronze in the first three
women’s events of the new season, surprisingly lost to seventh seeds Kristyna
Kolocova/ Marketa Slukova from the Czech Republic 14-21, 21-17, 15-11 in a
second-round elimination match and had to settle for a disappointing ninth-place
“They were the
better team today. It’s the first time we played against them this year and I
think they have improved a lot,” said Zhang Xi. “From the second set they made
some changes, which we failed to adapt to, and we were not good enough in our counter-attack.”
Kolocova/ Slukova, whose last victory over the Chinese duo was in
July 2010 in Marseille, were thrilled with the hard-fought win in 49 minutes.
“It feels perfect,” Kolocova said. “We were playing our best, we
were good at side-outs, we were good at serving – so we are very happy about it.”
“In the first
set, we also played good side-outs, but then we made a few mistakes, bad
reception, so they pulled away to win quite easily,” Slukova said. “Then we
decided to change our tactics a little bit and served more to the blocker and
then she had a little problem with the reception. It’s quite hard because we had
to push them a lot. We are very happy about it, because last year we played
them many times, we had some good moments, some good sets, but never finished
the game, and now we really finished it.”
However, Kolocova/ Slukova could not overcome Italian 10th seeds
Greta Cicolari/ Marta Menegatti in the quarterfinals on Friday afternoon. In a
rematch of their pool clash on Thursday, the combination from the Czech Republic
lost in three sets again.
Walsh/ May Treanor, who came back from an opening loss to win the
top place of their preliminary pool, missed the chance to repeat their
title-winning feat in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2011 Beijing Grand
Slam after falling to fifth-seeded compatriots Jennifer Kessy/ April Ross
“I am so
impressed by my partner, I don’t know anyone else can play that injured, not
able to look up in the sky at all and still win two matches after that. I mean
it’s awesome; she was playing fantastic and I am impressed by her ability to want
to win,” said Kessy of Ross.
A neck injury
to Ross caused by sneezing forced them out of a pool match Thursday morning,
but they came back to win two matches in a row to make the quarterfinals.
“She can’t move her neck; we have to change the way we play a lot
to adapt to that,” Kessy said.
But later on
Friday, Kessy/ Ross were also sent packing, by Sanne Keizer/ Marleen Van Iersel
in a thrilling three-setter (21-13, 13-21, 15-10) against the sixth seeds from
Second seeds Talita Antunes/ Maria Antonelli of Brazil failed to
reach the quarterfinals following a 21-19, 21-13 loss to Germany’s 21st seeds
Katrin Holtwick/ Ilka Semmler, upset winners over Kessy/ Ross in Wednesday’s
Holtwick/ Semmler went on to rally past Belgium’s 18th seeds
Liesbeth Mouha/ Katrien Gielen 18-21, 21-12, 18-16 in 45 minutes Friday
afternoon to make the semifinals.
With 42 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour titles under their
belt but yet to win a gold medal in 2012, Larissa/ Juliana saw off Australia’s
20th seeds Nathalie Cook/ Tamsin Hinchley 21-10, 21-18 before ousting Germany’s
eighth seeds Sara Goller/ Laura Ludwig 21-18, 21-17. Nevertheless, Juliana was
taking nothing for granted.
“It’s not going be easier,” she maintained. “Three good teams out,
but there are more good teams left in the tournament. Like I said yesterday, I
don’t worry about other teams. I’m happy because today our performances were
very good and we played very hard. We really hope to keep doing that for
Larissa/ Juliana will face Holtwick/ Semmler and Keizer/ Van
Iersel will take on Cicolari/ Menegatti in the semifinals on Saturday morning.
The women’s final of the $600,000 Beijing Grand Slam is set for
Saturday afternoon, with the gold-medal team splitting $43,000. The men’s
action will also continue on Saturday with two elimination-round matches.
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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