Klagenfurt, Austria, July 17, 2012—Soaking in the warming sunshine and near-perfect weather of an Austrian summer day, teams from Brazil and Germany battled through country quota playoff matches Tuesday to advance to the men’s qualification tournament on Wednesday at the double-gender $600,000 A1 Grand Slam presented by ERGO in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee.
The world’s top beach volleyball tandems have returned to Austria as the double-gender event marks the 16th consecutive visit by the FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour with Klagenfurt hosting 15 men’s and 11 previous women’s events. In 2001 Klagenfurt hosted the FIVB SWATCH World Championships and has hosted a grand slam every year since 2002.
Making it through the all-Brazilian country quota matches was Rhooney Ferramenta/Thiago Santos Barbosa while moving on into the qualification tournament after winning their country quota match Tuesday was Germany’s Markus Bockermann/Mischa Urbatzka.
One of the most popular events of many ‘favorite’ events on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour, the Klagenfurt venue features a purpose-built 8,000-seat stadium center court and massive two-story VIP hospitality area and private dock along with another private players dock alongside the short of spectacularly beautiful Lake Woerth in western Klagenfurt, which is located in Southern Austria.
The men’s single-elimination qualification tournament Wednesday will determine the final eight spots in the men’s 32-team main draw that will start Thursday with two days of round-robin pool play where each team will play three matches. The top three teams in each pool will than advance to Friday afternoon’s 24-team single-elimination bracket phase of the tournament.
The seventh of a FIVB-record eight grand slams on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour schedule, the A1 Grand Slam began with women’s country quota matches on Monday, continued with the single elimination qualification tournament on Tuesday to determine the final eight spots in the women’s 32-team main draw pool play on Wednesday and Thursday and single-elimination bracket Thursday afternoon through Friday. The women’s semifinals and medal matches will be played Saturday with the men’s “final four” matches Sunday as the winning pairs in each gender share the $43,500 first-place prizes. The men’s schedule mirrors the women, starting one day later with country quota matches on Tuesday and the men’s competition finishing on Wednesday.
Brazil’s Ferramenta/Santos Barbosa advanced to the qualification tournament after winning their country quota playoff match over Evandro Goncalves/Harley Marques, 21-15, 21-14 in 39 minutes. Goncalves/Marques had won the first Brazilian country quota match by defeating Vitor Felipe/Moises Santos in three sets, 21-17, 15-21 and 17-15 in 59 minutes.
For Germany, moving forward to the qualification tournament on Wednesday was the team of Markus Bockermann/Mischa Urbatzka who beat compatriots Thomas Kaczmarek/Alexander Walkenhorst, 21-14, 21-12 in just 32 minutes.
After their latest country quota triumph, Bockermann said, “It wasn’t as hard a match today as most country quota matches are, but one of the big reasons today was that Mischa and I are playing better and better. Now we can see how much better in the qualification tournament tomorrow.”
The talented field includes the three of the final four finishers in the women’s competition from last year and all four of the men’s final four from last year’s A1 Grand Slam in Klagenfurt. Returning from last year’s women’s competition are China’s silver medalists Chen Xue/Xi Zhang, Netherland’s bronze medalists Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel and Brazil’s Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes who finished fourth last year for the third consecutive year. Brazil’s reigning FIVB SWATCH World Champions Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca are entered this year in Klagenfurt as well where they won the gold medal in both 2009 and 2010 and the silver in 2006.
Last year’s men’s final four finishers in Kalgenfurt, who are all entered this year with one player switching partners are Brazil’s Pedro Cunha/Ricardo Santos (gold), Germany’s Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann (silver), USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (bronze) and fourth place was Brazil’s Joao Maciel/Bruno Oscar Schmidt although this year Schmidt is playing with Benjamin Insfran, who won this event in 2003 in Marcio Araujo.
A total of 155 teams from 37 countries (89 men’s teams from 30 countries and 66 women’s teams from 24 countries) have entered the A1 Grand Slam presented by ERGO (as of July 15, 2012), including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United States, and Venezuela.
The 2012 calendar features 13 women's and 12 men's events, including nine double-gender tournaments, within four of the five FIVB confederations in addition to the approaching 2012 London Olympic Games on July 28 to August 9 in a purpose-built 15,000 stadium on the grounds of the iconic Horse Guards Parade. The 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour is offering $6,110-million in prize money.
After the 2012 London Olympic Games, the 2012 FIVB Swatch World Tour returns to action with the eighth and final grand slam double-gender event August 13-19 with the Mazury Orlen Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki, Poland. The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000.
The A1 Grand Slam is the 241st women’s event and 281st men’s event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour (open, grand slam, Olympic and Goodwill) schedule. The first men’s FIVB SWATCH World Tour event was played February 17-22, 1987 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the first women’s event was played August 14-16, 1992 at Almeria, Spain.
Also on-site this week at the Klagenfurt venue is a special production crew from IMG, the company that not only produces the live international telecasts of the medal matches, but also the weekly FIVB SWATCH World Tour highlight show that is syndicated throughout the world.
For more information on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour or the event, please visit www.fivb.org. For additional information on the A1 Grand Slam, please visit the event website at www.beachvolleyball.at.