Brazil pair taking steps in the right direction in Moscow
The Brazilians began with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-16) win over their compatriots and 2013 Moscow gold medallists Maria-Clara and Carolina Salgado and they then followed up with a hard-fought 2-1 (21-17, 19-21, 15-12) victory against newly-crowned CEV European champions Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel of the Netherlands.
“It was a good day for me and Juliana,” Maria Antonelli said. “We played very well and we have one match tomorrow and we have to think about that, relax and think about the other team. We know that we did well today, but we know tomorrow there is another match.”
Their strength as pair shouldn’t be too surprising considering that Juliana won the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships and London 2012 Olympic bronze alongside former partner Larissa Franca.
Maria Antonelli is no stranger to success herself and she holds countless World Tour medals of all colours in her personal collection. They have already enjoyed a taste of success since Juliana returned from missing the 2013 season by winning silver medals at the 2014 Fuzhou Open in China and the Puerto Vallarta Open in Mexico.
“Juliana is very happy and she talks a lot during the matches,” Maria Antonelli said. “She talked a lot today and knows what she is talking about. It is our first World Tour together and we are enjoying it a lot.”
“I’m enjoying playing again,” Juliana added. “I’m starting as part of a new team and I love playing with her. I expect to play well and to have to work a lot. We feel good about it and we are taking it step by step.”
Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova also started with a brace of wins.
The Czech duo began with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-16) win over USA’s Lane Carico and Brittany Hochevar and then followed up by beating the Netherlands Rimke Braakman and Jantine van der Vlist 2-0 (21-13, 21-14).
“We won both today so we are very happy that it worked out well,” Slukova said. “It was a bit windy and rainy, so we had to refocus on playing a different style. We were very stable and had good defence in the second match.”
Slukova and Kolocova recently won their first World Tour gold medals when they delighted their home fans at the Prague Open in May, but they have no intention of changing their approach to competing on the World Tour.
“It was another tournament for us,” Slukova added. “We are very happy that we won in Prague in front of our home crowd, but we know that every tournament is different, so we know that we have to restart and have to fight for every point.”
The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Moscow Grand Slam runs from Wednesday, June 11 through to Sunday June 15. It is the sixth event and the second Grand Slam on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar that features nine Grand Slams and 11 Open tournaments.
The 2014 World Tour began at the Fuzhou Open in China in April and concludes at the Durban Open in South Africa in December. Next up on the World Tour calendar is the Berlin Grand Slam which runs from June 17-22.