Juliana back in business as Fuzhou kicks-off World Tour
The tournament is the first in a World Tour calendar that features nine Grand Slams, 11 Open tournaments and for which points are accumulated from continental and domestic tours.
Juliana won the last of her seven World Tour titles in 2012 and the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships with former partner Larissa Franca, but didn’t feature in 2013 following Larissa’s retirement at the end of 2012.
She will team up with Maria Antonelli in Fuzhou and they pair will be one of many teams aiming to take the crown of defending champions and compatriots, Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima.
The defending champions are in good form however and recently won gold at the South American Games, while Talita was named Queen of the Beach on the Brazilian Beach Volleyball Tour.
Also eyeing their title are April Ross and Kerri Walsh. The USA pair played on opposite sides of the net at the London 2012 final, but played three tournaments in 2013 and won two gold medals, at the Sao Paolo and Xiamen Grand Slams.
Chen Xue, one half of the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships winners will be out to mark another season with a win, a year after she and former partner Zhang Xi won the Fuzhou Open en route to victory at the World Championships.
She continues her partnership with Xia Xinyi, with whom she won the Phuket Open and Durban Open at the end of 2013.
In the men’s tournament Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs begin the defence of their title, just over four months after they won it at the Durban Open.
The team that pushed them to the very limit at the final tournament, Pedro Salgado and Bruno Schmidt will begin the season with new partners, one half each of the 2011 world champions.
Pedro will line-up with Emanuel Rego, while Alison Cerutti partners Bruno having won gold together at the South American Games.
World champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen meanwhile will be out to lay down an early marker on the World Tour, having won a surprise world title in 2013.
Following Fuzhou the first Grand Slam of the year takes place in Shanghai, which runs from April 29 until May 4. The final Grand Slam takes place in Stare Jablonki, Poland from August 19-24, while the season draws to a close at the Durban Open in South Africa for the second consecutive year in December.
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