Rome, Italy, June 15, 2012 – Home court favourites Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti delighted the Rome crowd with a win over number three seeds Maria Antonelli and Talita Antunes at the smart Grand Slam on Friday.
Greta Cicolari (left) and Marta Menegatti sent the crowd into raptures when they reached the quarterfinals of the smart Grand Slam at Rome's Foro Italico sports complex
It marked a turnaround for the Italian team after they had been forced to go through the losers’ bracket. They had finished second in their pool after losing to Swiss pair Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr.
Against the Brazilian duo the Italians used the vocal crowd as inspiration to win 21-18, 21-15 and reach the quarterfinals.
“It is a one-off feeling because we are playing in our home country and those two are a very strong team,” Cicolari said. “We were able not to worry about the pressure on us and we are very, very happy to win.”
The 2011 European champions have already won silver at the Beijing Grand Slam and bronze at the Brasilia Open in 2012 and now their aim is to add to their medal tally.
“It is so important for our confidence,” Cicolari continued. “The results may not show it, but it has been quite a difficult period for us. Today was excellent for us and very important for our hopes of qualifying for the Olympics.”
Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger continued their good run of form with a win over Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler that takes them into the quarterfinals and a guaranteed fifth place finish.
They Austrian sisters were pushed to three sets by the German side, but held their nerve to win 21-18, 21-23, 15-9.
“It is always nice to win and guarantee a fifth-place finish in a Grand Slam,” Doris Schwaiger said. “We have come back from some mixed results and now we feel we are playing well.”
As well as taking on one another both teams had to contend with soaring temperatures in the Italian capital.
The Schwaiger’s guaranteed fifth-place finish means that they have now matched their best result for 2012. They also finished fifth at the Shanghai Grand Slam.
“It was very hot, but we like to play here,” Stefanie Schwaiger added. “We like playing here a lot.
“We feel we are getting better and better and we are playing well. Now we are getting closer to the Olympic Games we feel we feel our performances are improving.”
World champions Larissa and Juliana were unable to repeat their heroics from the 2011 FIVB SWATCH World Championships that were held in Rome a year ago.
German pair Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig continued their impressive form with a 21-16, 18-21, 15-11 victory.
Number one seeds Chen Xue and Zhang Xi, Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh and their US compatriots Jennifer Kessy and April Ross also made it through to the quarter-finals.
The smart Grand Slam, Rome is the sixth tournament on the women’s FIVB SWATCH World Tour, which features 12 events and culminates with the Bangsaen Thailand Open powered by PTT in October.
Rome is the last tournament in which world ranking points count towards qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games and the winning team will leave with a prize of $43,000. Both the women’s and men’s finals take place on Sunday, June 17.