Defending champs Talita/Lima storm into Shanghai Grand Slam semis
Shanghai, China, May 3, 2014 – Defending champions Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima of Brazil stormed into the semi-finals of the US$800,000 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Shanghai Grand Slam by taking their fifth straight-set win in the women’s quarter-finals Saturday afternoon.
The top-seeded Talita/Lima have yet to drop a set in five matches after brushing aisde Australia’s 19th seeds Taliqua Clancy/Louise Bawden 2-0 (21-18, 22-20) and Spain’s 11th seeds Liliana Fernandez Steiner/Elsa Baquerizo McMillan 2-0 (21-14, 21-16) to reach the medal round of the first Grand Slam event of the season.
Talita attributed her side’s impressive performance to the strong serving of Lima. “This tournament is all about the serving of Taiana. She served well against Switzerland, Slovakia, Australia and Spain, that’s the key point of this tournament.“
Talita, who had been crowned in Shanghai three time with three different partners in 2008, 2009 and 2013, would love to repeat the title winning feat from last year.
“I think this place is very special for me. I won with different partners, Lima, Antonelli and Reneta, hopefully I can do it again,” Talita added. “My partner served so well in this tournament and I think we have a good chance.”
Talita has already put her eyes on the Rio Games in 2016. “All the teams are preparing for 2016; all the teams are getting better and better. The next year will be much harder and we will always try our best.”
Germany’s second seeds Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst also made it into the semi-finals with a pair of elimination wins on Saturday. After downing Brazilian duo Juliana Silva/Maria Antonelli, the silver medal winners from the Fuzhou Open, in straight sets (21-19 and 21-14), Ludwig/Walkenhorst went on to post a 2-0 (21-15, 21-17) victory over the Netherlands’ eighth seeds Marleen Van Iersel and Madelein Meppelink in the quarter-finals.
Earlier on Saturday, Australian qualifiers Mariafe Artacho and Nicloe Laird, who had secured their best finish in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour after surprisingly winning their pool play over Ludwig/Walkenhorst, were stunned by home duo Wang Fan/Yue Yuan 2-0 (21-13, 21-10) in the women's top 16 round.
Wang/Yue had their winning momentum continued as they upset Germany’s seventh seeds Karla Borger/Britta Buthe 2-1 (21-12, 18-21, 15-12) in the quarter-finals to secure their first top four finish at Grand Slam events.
“Wow, it’s great to make top four in the Grand Slam for the first time!“ said Wang Fan. “I was so nervous in the game and I’m so happy now.“
The tiebreaker was hotly contested as Wang/Yue erased an early two-point deficit to overtake the lead at 7-6. The German duo stayed within 11-10, but the Chinese enlarged it to 13-10 through a smash and a block of Wang Fan agaist Buthe and went on to seal the victory in 48 minutes.
“We lost to them in the pool play, so we really wanted to get it back,” said Yue Yuan. “In the second set, we were too anxious to win and couldn’t play our game. I am happy that we never gave up and fought till the end.”
The other semi-final berth were taken by Brazil’s sixth seeds Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas De Freitas, 2-0 (21-19, 21-17) winners over Fuzhou Open champions Kerri Walsh/April Ross of the United States in the quarter-finals.
The 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar features a record purse of US$10.2 million with a season that extends from late April to mid-December competing at 21 venues in 18 countries. This year’s FIVB World Tour includes a record 10 FIVB Grand Slam events, the inaugural Grand Slam Finale and 11 FIVB Open Tournaments throughout the world, helping expand the door for development of the sport even further.
The 10 FIVB Grand Slam competitions, all double-gender, have eight with $800,000 in total purses while both The Hague, Netherlands and the Long Beach, Calif., USA event will have $1 million each in prize money, the most in FIVB Grand Slam history.
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