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Mazury Orlen Grand Slam | Women
  13/08/2012 - 18/08/2012

Walsh continues winning run a week on from Olympic final

Kerri Walsh was back to winning ways at the Mazury Orlen Grand Slam, when she and Nicole Branagh marked her birthday with two wins from two

Stare Jablonki, Poland, August 15, 2012 – Birthday girl Kerri Walsh needed little time to rediscover her rhythm seven days on from winning a third successive gold alongside Misty May-Treanor at the London 2012 Olympic Games. With May-Treanor now retired Walsh played alongside Nicole Branagh and the pair started the Mazury Orlen Grand Slam in familiar style with two wins from two.

First off they defeated fellow US pair Brooke Hanson and Lauren Fendrick 21-14, 21-19 and then came back from a set down to beat Austria’s Barbara Hansel and Magdalena Jirak 19-21, 21-12, 15-8.

“I love my job and I love winning,” Walsh said. “Even at the Olympics I was already thinking about coming here. It is my job and I want to win, I’m here to win.”

It is not the first time that Walsh and Branagh have played together. In 2008 they won the Dubai Open and two years later won the Thailand Open in Phuket.

The two wins put them in firm control of pool E and they will now play The Netherland’s Madelein Meppelink and Sophie van Gestel on Thursday in the knowledge that a third win would put them straight through to the second knockout round.

“It is always an honour to play with Kerri,” Branagh said. “I think when we play together we play well and we have had some success. It is fun to play with her, I’m happy to be part of the team and I’m looking forward to a great tournament.”

Also on Wednesday Olympic silver medallists and number one seeds Jennifer Kessy and April Ross of the USA won their two matches, as did the Olympic bronze medallists Juliana Felisberta and Larissa Franca from Brazil.

Their fellow Brazilians Liliane Maestrini and Maria Clara Salgado meanwhile are enjoying a rare foray into the main draw. For much of the season they have had to play in both the country quota and qualification rounds, with only the odd appearance in the main draw. 

“For me it is really good to be in the main draw,” Maria Clara said. “The whole season I’ve played country quota and qualification, it’s quite annoying, but you learn from it.”

They began with a loss to Slovakia’s Natalia Dubovcova and Dominika Nestarcova, but recovered to defeat Agnieszka Woloszyn and Karolina Suwinska 21-14, 21-13. 

“In the first match we played really good in the first set, but didn’t in the second and they deserved it (the win),” Maria Clara said. “I’m happy to be here, I didn’t plan to come originally, but I always enjoy playing here.

“It is great to play the main draw; it is easier in the first few days. We’re happy to be here and hope to play well tomorrow against Kessy and Ross who are playing really well.”

The Mazury Orlen Grand Slam is the ninth of nine mixed gender tournaments on the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour and the 10th women’s tournament of the year. The winning side will leave with the largest share from a pot of $300,000 per gender.

The women’s calendar is set to culminate with the Bang Saen Thailand Open powered by PTT in Thailand which runs from October 23-28.

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18/08/2012 Juliana and Larissa win fourth straight gold at Stare Jablonki
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17/08/2012 Holtwick and Semmler knock out Kessy and Ross on way to semifinals
16/08/2012 Spanish duo win two from two to remain in contention at Stare Jablonki
16/08/2012 Montagnolli says farewell after 15 years on World Tour
15/08/2012 Walsh continues winning run a week on from Olympic final
14/08/2012 Dutch pair into main draw for first time
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