Ukolova/Khomyakova eliminate Juliana/Larissa to reach final four in Aland
The Russian team will play Spain’s Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan in the first semifinal at 16.30 (local time) Saturday afternoon. It is their first meeting ever.
In the second semifinal Switzerland’s Simone Kuhn/Nadine Zumkehr is leading the series against Germany’s Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler 3-2. It is the first all-European final four in the history of the women’s World Tour.
Ukolova and Khomyakova will play their third semifinal in just two years playing together. They won gold in Klagenfurt and finished 4th in Stare Jablonki this year. The 7th seeded Russians never played three time Paf Open winners Juliana and Larissa before. But they had seen the Brazilians struggling in their first match in the losers’ bracket on Saturday against Germany’s Banck/Walkenhorst (21-17 21-16).
Especially Larissa seemed to have difficulties receiving the serve against the Germans. Ukolova: ’’We saw them make mistakes, yes, but this is such an experienced team, it is difficult to determine a good strategy against such a strong team. We did not play them before. We just knew we had to play our own game, not make mistakes and serve strong. And we did.’’
Larissa was ready to go home after their loss. ’’It has been a long season, my concentration is gone, mentally I am exhausted. We played so many tournaments this year, I want to go home to my country, my family and my house.’’ Juliana and Larissa’s early elimination means that the 2012 World Tour championship remains undecided until the final event in Thailand at the end of October.
Kuhn/Zumkehr and Liliana/Baquerizo reached the final four on Friday, winning all their matches at the Paf Open so far. Holtwick and Semmler lost to Ukolova/Khomyakova in the third round on Friday and worked their way up through the loser’s bracket. The Russians lost to Kuhn/Zumkehr in the fourth round and had to play just one match in the loser’s bracket.
Liliana/Baquerizo played one World Tour final four before, finishing 4th in Quebec in 2011. Kuhn/Zumkehr played three so far, winning two gold medals (Sanya 2009, Rome 2012) and one bronze (Gstaad 2012). Holtwick/Semmler appeared in seven final fours, winning two bronze and two silver medals.
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