Klagenfurt, Austria, July 21, 2012—Because of steady overnight rainfall that has continued throughout the morning and into mid-afternoon and its impact on the flooded stadium center court, FIVB officials have postponed Saturday's internationally televised women's semifinals and medal matches at the $600,000 A1 Grand Slam presented by ERGO in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee and rescheduled them to Sunday. FIVB delegates in association with Tournament officials and television producers from host broadcaster ORF Sports have agreed to postpone the matches starting with the semifinals at 8:45 a.m. on Sunday morning.
As men's play continues on side courts Saturday in the continuing rain with the men finishing the round of 16 and the quarterfinals today in Klagenfurt, Sunday’s revised schedule will include the men's semifinals and medal matches have always been scheduled for this FIVB SWATCH World Tour event on Sunday.
“These are very unfortunate circumstances for everyone involved, especially the players themselves, but we have mutually agreed that the center court is not in playable condition for these internationally-televised women’s matches and we have postponed them until tomorrow,” said Ed Drakich, the FIVB Technical Supervisor for this FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour event. “The weather forecast for tomorrow is significantly improved over today and we are very confident that we will be able to have the center court in playable condition again for both the women’s and men’s medal matches.
This is the first time in the 16-year history of the A1 Grand Slam in Klagenfurt that the stadium center court has been closed during the tournament.
Scheduled to meet in the women’s semifinals are China’s top-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang vs. Netherland’s 13th-seeded Madelein Meppelink/Sophie van Gestel and Brazil’s fifth-seeded Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes playing against Russia’s 28th-seeded Ekaterina Khomyakova/Evgenia Ukolova.
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 that determined the final eight spots in the 32-team main draw pool play which was held on Wednesday and Thursday and single-elimination bracket Thursday afternoon through Friday.
For Sunday’s women’s and men’s semifinals and medal matches the winning pairs in each gender share the $43,500 first-place prizes. The men’s schedule has mirrored the women, starting one day later with country quota matches on Tuesday. Silver medalists will split $29,500 while bronze medal winners will divide $23,000 and the fourth place finishing teams in each gender will receive $18,400.
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.
Previewing their semifinals which feature four teams heading to London next week to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games, China’s Xue/Zhang are playing in their 76th FIVB SWATCH World Tour event together and have earned their 41st final four spot while Netherlands’ youthful Meppelink, 22 and van Gestel, 21, are playing just their 11th FIVB SWATCH World Tour event together and this is their first final four appearance as they have only been playing together as a team since this event in Klagenfurt last year.
In the other semifinal between two 2012 Olympians, Russia’s Khomyakova/Ukolova are playing in just their 18th FIVB SWATCH World Tour event together and this is their first final four appearance while Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes are playing in their 49th world tour event together and they have earned their 33rd final four spot.
With their quarterfinal victories on Friday, China’s Xue/Zhang have a 47-5 on the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour while Netherlands’ Meppelink/van Gestel are 29-12 overall which includes a 9-0 record in qualification tournaments. Just last September, van Gestel won a bronze medal with Remke Braakman in the 2011 FIVB SWATCH Junior World Championships for players under 21.
After notching their quarterfinal wins Friday, Russia’s Khomyakova/Ukolova are 19-15 on the world tour this year, including a 5-1 record in qualification tournaments while Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes have a 33-13 record so far this season.
A total of 155 teams from 37 countries (89 men’s teams from 30 countries and 66 women’s teams from 24 countries) started the A1 Grand Slam presented by ERGO.
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.