Top four seeded teams in Moscow reach semifinals
Ricardo and Cunha are the only team that did not lose a set yet this week on the courts in Victory Park, in the heart of the Russian capital. They reached the semifinal cruising by Polish 5th seeded Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel (21-18 21-15) and Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Ruslans Sorokins (21-15 21-15).
Former world and olympic champion Ricardo teamed up with double junior world champion Cunha halfway last year. In 11 World Tour events they have reached the semifinals five times before, winning four gold and one bronze medal. They finished 9th in the first two grand slams this year, but won gold in Myslowice and Prague, and seem to have a good chance to qualify for the Olympics behind Alison and Emanuel.
‘’We are getting more and more confident. Especially after winning the gold in Prague two weeks ago’’, Cunha said. ‘’There is good chemistry between us.’’ The Brazilians are tied 2-2 with Dutch Nummerdor and Schuil, but won their last encounter in Prague. Cunha: ‘’It is always tough against them. They are like us, confident and calm. They do not show emotions and it is always difficult to decide who we should target.’’
The top seeded Dutch, who won the 2012 Beijing Grand Slam, beat Czech Petr Benes and Premysl Kubala on Monday morning in easy straight sets (21-18 21-15), but had a difficult game against Brazil’s oldest player on the Tour Benjamin Insfran (40) and Bruno Oscar Schmidt. In the tiebreak the triple European champions changed tactics and started serving on Benjamin. That worked out fine: 21-15 15-21 15-8.
‘’They were playing without mistakes in the second set, we could not get a grip on their game’’, Nummerdor said. ‘’So we had to change something. And in the tiebreak Richard had some great serves en blocks, that really made the difference.’’ He looks forward to the semifinal against Ricardo and Cunha. ‘’They played really well in Prague, they deserved to win there. But we feel pretty good here.’’
In the other semifinal last year’s Moscow champions Alison and Emanuel take on European champions Brink and Reckermann. The Germans, who are playing their first World Tour event after Reckermann injured his shoulder this winter, also have a good track record in Moscow. They won gold in 2009 and bronze in 2010.
On their way to their 19th final four the former world champions were almost eliminated by Russia’s Yuri Bogatov and Serguei Prokopiev, who failed to secure their match point in the second set (14-21 24-22 15-11). In the afternoon Brink and Reckermann had recovered enough to beat their compatriots Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik (21-15 21-15). Despite their loss Erdmann and Matysik did good in Moscow, eliminating their direct rivals for an olympic ticket Klemperer/Koreng in the second round.
In a rematch of Prague’s semifinal world champions Alison and Emanuel beat compatriots Marcio Araujo and Pedro Solberg again in the second round (21-17 21-18). In the quarterfinals they eliminated USA’s 8th seeded Jakob Gibb and Sean Rosenthal in straight sets (21-18 21-19).
Alison and Emanuel have not won a title yet this year, but they were in three final fours, winning bronze in Beijing and silver in Prague, where they lost the final to Ricardo and Cunha. They lead the series against the Germans 4-3, the last duel dating back to last year’s World Championships in Rome where they robbed the Germans of their world title.
The men’s semifinals are scheduled for 13.00 and 14.30, the bronze medal match and the final follow at 17.00 and 18.00. The women’s tournament ended on Wednesday with China’s Chen Xue/Xi Zhang (gold), Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh (silver) and Larissa França/Juliana Felisberta (bronze) taking the podium places.
The Moscow Grand Slam is the first of five consecutive grand slams before the Olympic Games in London (July 28-August 9). Next will be the Rome Grand Slam (June 12-17), the last event counting for the olympic qualification ranking.