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Russian teams use home advantage

Ekaterina Syrtseva (left) and Alexandra Shiryaeva celebrate their win over the Salgado-sisters
Moscow, Russia, August 22, 2013 - Two Russian teams used the home advantage at the Moscow Grand Slam to the fullest on Thursday to upset opponents twice their ‘size’. Serguei Prokopiev and his new partner Grigoriy Goncharov surprised Brazil’s Ricardo Santos and Alvaro Filho (21-19 19-21 15-13) and 30th seeded Ekaterina Syrtseva and Alexandra Shiryaeva upset the 3rd seeded Salgado-sisters Maria Clara and Carol (21-17 19-21 15-10).

For the first time in the history of Russian beach volleyball nine Russian teams entered the main draw of a Grand Slam event, five men’s and four women’s couples.

The head coach of the Russian women’s teams, Marco Solustri, has good hopes for a medal, he said at the press conference for the local press.

"The beginning of the season was pretty crumbled, but in the second half the results went up. Gold medals at the Universiade Games and Anapa Open and Berlin was also quite successful. I am sure that the girls are able to show a good result here at the home sand. The main goal at the Moscow Grand Slam for us is clear - to win the medals."

Russian top player Evgenia Ukolova, who won gold with Ekaterina Khomyakova at the Universade and in Anapa, was counting on the home advantage.

“To play at home – it’s a great happiness for any athlete. We are very pleased that for the sixth consecutive year Moscow will host such a high status event. We will try not to disappoint the fans, looking forward to their support and we will try to win a medal.”

Ukolova and Khomyakova did not follow up to that promise on the first day though, losing both their pool play matches. The first one to USA’s Kelly Schumacher and Summer Ross (21-17 14-21 19-17) and the second to Swiss Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Vergé-Dépré (23-21 21-12).

Vyacheslav Nirka, coach of the Russian men’s teams, said all his athletes are fit and want to show their best. “In Berlin Semenov and Krasilnikov gave us all a brilliant game and a silver medal. I want to believe that in Moscow they will do so as well. And moreover, Yaroslav Koshkarev is back on the courts after an injury.”

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