Cuba, Brazil and Italy win on opening day
Japan, July 13, 2005 - Cuba began slowly but finished
with a flourish to beat China 3-2 in an incredible
come-from-behind win, while Brazil and Italy
recorded straight-set victories on the opening day of
the World Grand Prix finals on Wednesday.
Brazil, the defending World Grand Prix champions, had
too much experience for the Netherlands, while world
champions Italy blew away a hesitant Japan team in front
of a capacity crowd at Sendai City Gymnasium.
Pic: China captain Kun Feng digs
First-day honours, however, went to Cuba.
They lost the first two sets to Olympic champions China,
but found their attacking groove at just the right time
to condemn China to a 3-2 (10-25, 20-25, 25-19, 25-20,
Cuba prevailed in a thriller on their first match point,
15-13, when Rosir Calderon, daughter of head coach Luis
Felipe Calderon, put up a two-handed block on an
attempted spike by China's Chu Jinling.
Brazil, as expected, were too good for the Netherlands
winning (25-22, 25-22, 25-14), but the Dutch showed
enough skill to suggest they could cause problems for
lesser teams later in the week.
The atmosphere was at fever pitch for the evening
showpiece, but Italy quickly tamed the home crowd and
the home team.
In attack and defence, Italy outclassed Japan and won
easily (25-12, 25-21, 25-14) in just 63 minutes on
court, for the loss of only 47 points.
Italy took an early lead in the six-team table on points
differential, followed by Brazil and Cuba.
But it was the feisty Cubans who showed the fighting
spirit the other teams must match to win the US$200,000
first prize at the close of play on Monday.
Day two on Thursday starts at
03:35 GMT (12:35 local time) with
China taking on Italy.
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