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USA’s Ross/Walsh on track for back-to-back gold

USA's Kerri Walsh (left) and April Ross topped their pool and are on track for another gold
Berlin, Germany, June 19, 2014 – April Ross and Kerri Walsh seem right on track for another gold medal after they won the Moscow Grand Slam last week. The American top team on Thursday won their final round robin match against Australia’s Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy (21-15, 21-15) to top the pool.

With a forfeit from fellow Americans Pavlik/Fopma in their first pool match and a 2-0 (21-12, 25-23) win over Polish team Brzostek/Kolosinka on Wednesday, Ross and Walsh advance to the second knockout round unbeaten.

“You look at the scores and it’s one thing, but if feels different out there. It’s hard”, said Ross. “It feels like we’re fighting for every point, regardless of what the score is, because the teams are so good. Poland played really well yesterday. I think we served and blocked better today than yesterday. That might have been the difference.”

Ross teamed up with her opponent in the 2012 London Olympics final halfway through last season. Since then they played six World Tour events and booked impressive results: gold in Sao Paolo, Xiamen, Fuzhou and Moscow.

Getting used to the conditions

But every tournament is a whole new ball game. “We’re just getting used to the conditions”, Ross said. “It’s very different from Moscow. The sand is deeper, there’s a little bit more wind. The temperature is about the same, which is just fine because I like this temperature. We’re just learning every match and getting better every match.”

There were some mishaps in the match against the Australians, but not much. In the first set strong serving Ross gave them a jump start from 9-9 to 16-9 and they finished the set at their second match point: 21-15.

Ross and Walsh put most of the pressure on young Clancy and that worked well. The Australians made too many unforced errors and could not come close anymore in the second set.

“I am happier than yesterday”, Walsh said. “I feel like we have a little hangover from the last tournament and we are still kind of shaking that off. That Australian team is really good, but I think we made them really uncomfortable and I think we did a good job today. But we have to do better though.”

Ross agreed: “The feeling in this match was much better than the last match. So hopefully this trend just continues through the tournament.”

Walsh (35) has won three gold medals before in Berlin, including the World Championships in 2005. Ross never won a medal in the German capital, but came close in 2008, finishing 4th with Jennifer Kessy.

Love Berlin

“I love Berlin”, Ross said. “I have never won here. I would just be awesome because it’s one of my favourite cities. Here, Barcelona and Paris are my favourite cities.”

For support Walsh brought here 1-year old daughter Scout Margery, looked after by her mother when she is playing. “She needs me, but I need her too”, said Walsh about her little girl.

“My boys have more of a schedule at home with school and stuff. She is still free. In my perfect dream world we would all be together, obviously. But Casey is still getting ready for the AVP and needs to train. If he would be here, we would all be here.”

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