Rome, Italy, June 16, 2012 – Laura Ludwig and Sara Goller continued their upturn in form with a two-set victory over Jennifer Kessy and April Ross that takes them into the final at the smart Grand Slam, Rome on Saturday.
Goller (left) and Ludwig are into their first FIVB SWATCH World Tour final since they took silver in Stavanger in 2011
The German duo put in a dominant display to beat the 2009 world champions 21-19, 21-17 and set up a meeting with Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr from Switzerland.
“We just went out there and had fun,” Ludwig said. “We just concentrated on our own game, such as our serve and to put them under pressure with our service. I think here in Rome we enjoy playing the tournament.”
The final at Rome’s Foro Italico sports complex is Ludwig’s and Goller’s first in just under a year. Last year in Stavanger they lost in two sets to Kessy and Ross. The USA pair also beat them in the final in Rome in 2010.
Since taking silver in Stavanger Ludwig and Goller’s form has fluctuated throughout the FIVB SWATCH World Tour. In Rome though they went unbeaten in the pool stages, then defeated 2011 FIVB world champions Larissa and Juliana in their first knockout match to give themselves the belief that they could finish on the podium this time.
“In the past at other tournaments we have had some really good games and some really bad games, but we were never always at 100 percent,” Ludwig said.
“In this tournament though we have had a lot of games where we are at 100 percent and that is very good for our confidence. We haven’t been in a final in nearly a year, so it is definitely time.”
Kuhn and Zumkehr defeated local favourites Marta Menegatti and Greta Cicolari in the second semifinal after they fought back from losing the first set to win 16-21, 21-19, 19-17.
“In a Grand Slam it is unbelievable,” Kuhn said. “Even though we had the crowd against us it is really nice to play here. At the beginning we were a little bit shaky and scared, but then we got back into our game and relaxed because we had nothing to lose.”
It was the second time in the tournament that the Swiss beat the Italians. In the pool stages Kuhn and Zumkehr also won in three sets to take top spot ahead of the fifth seeds.
They also eliminated first seeds Chen Xue and Zhang Xi in the last eight to set up their second meeting with Menegatti and Cicolari.
“We had many tough games where there were many difficult moments and we took it point by point and there is always the possibility we can come back then,” Simone said. “I’m happy we could do that again.
For the Swiss it is the first time that they have reached an FIVB World Tour final since 2009 when they won gold at the 2009 Sanya Open, an event in which they also defeated Menegatti and Cicolari in the semifinals.
The last time Kuhn and Zumkehr met Ludwig and Goller was in the bronze medal match at the 2011 European Championships when the Germans won in straight sets. Overall, the Germans have beaten the Swiss pair five times and lost only once.
“We practice together quite often, even in the off-season and I think they know us quite well,” Kuhn said. “I think the pressure is on them because they are more experienced and have been to more finals and have a higher ranking. We will try to play our best again and then we will see.”
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.