Klagenfurt, Austria, July 18, 2012—Soaking in the in sun and the fun of a pleasant Austrian summer day, the sizzling sand on the Klagenfurt courts experienced the first two of three rounds of the women’s 32-team main draw pool play matches that saw eight teams from seven countries go undefeated heading into Thursday’s final round of round-robin play and the first round of single-elimination bracket play at the $600,000 A1 Grand Slam presented by ERGO in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee.
Leading their respective pools with 2-0 records are teams from Brazil, and one each from Australia, China, Czech Republic, and Switzerland. The 32 teams in the women’s main draw have been divided into eight pools of four teams each playing three round robin matches over two days.
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.
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.
On Thursday morning the women finish pool play with single matches that will determine the 24 teams that will head into the final single-elimination bracket play phase of the tournament. With the eight pool winners receiving a bye in the first round of elimination, the other 16 advancing teams will play the first round on Thursday afternoon and early evening. On Friday, the winner’s of Thursday’s first round will meet the eight pool winners in the round of 16 followed by the quarterfinals to determine the women’s final four. On Saturday the women’s semifinals and medal matches will be held on the Klagenfurt stadium center court.
The seventh of an 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 and continued with the single elimination qualification tournament on Tuesday to determine the final eight spots in the 32-team main draw pool play which runs 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.
Leading their pools after the first day of round robin pool play with 2-0 records are China’s top-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang (Pool A), Brazil’s second-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca (Pool B), Netherlands’ third-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel (Pool C), Switzerland’s Simone Kuhn/Nadine Zumkehr (Pool D), Brazil’s 21st-seeded qualification and country quota survivor Liliane Maestrini/Angela Vieira (Pool E), Czech Republic’s sixth-seeded Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova (Pool F), and Australia’s eighth-seeded Louise Bawden/Becchara Palmer (Pool H). China’s Xue/Zhang, Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa and Brazil’s Maestrini/Vieira all won both of their matches without losing a set, each going 4-0 for the day.
Using a tie-breaker system, Germany’s seventh-seeded Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig (Pool G) are in a four-way tie after the first day with 1-1 records for all four teams but the Germans are leading via the tie-breaker.
Also undefeated but second in their respective pools because of tie-break rules is Russia’s 28th-seeded Ekaterina Khomyakova/Evgenia Ukolova who were 4-1 in sets won for the day.
China’s top-seeded Xue/Zhang stung two opponents on Wednesday, first defeating Austria’s 32nd-seeded Carnelia Rimser/Sabine Swoboda, 21-13, 21-13 in 32 minutes and followed that up with another precision win, this time in two sets over Spain’s 17th-seeded Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez, 21-14, 21-12 in 33 minutes.
Keeping pace with the Chinese team, Brazil’s two-time Klagenfurt champions and second-seeded Juliana/Larissa first defeated Slovenia’s 31st-seeded Simona Fabjan/Andreja Vodeb, 21-11, 21-9 in just 29 minutes, the quickest match of the day and then finished their perfect day by defeating Germany’s 18th-seeded Karla Borger/Britta Buthe in twin sets, 21-15, 21-14 in 36 minutes.
A surprise team in the women’s tournament so far, Brazil’s 21st-seeded Maestrini/Vieira, who had to win a country quota match Monday and a qualification tournament match Tuesday, had two more wins in main draw pool play Wednesday. The Brazilian’s defeated Belgium’s 12th-seeded Katrien Gielen/Liesbeth Mouha, 21-10, 21-12 in 30 minutes and fifth-seeded Brazilian compatriots Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes, 21-12, 21-19 in 40 minutes.
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.