Top teams march into Shanghai Grand Slam women’s top 16
Shanghai, China, May 3, 2013 – Top teams including all medal winners from the season-opening Fuzhou Open marched into the women’s top 16 at the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Shanghai Grand Slam here on Friday.
Shanghai Grand Slam title holders Xue Chen/Zhang Xi from China beat Brazilian qualifiers Maria Clara Salgado Rufino/Carolina Solberg Salgado 2-0 (21-19, 21-17) Friday morning to clinch the top place in pool A with three straight wins. The Salgado sisters stayed within 17-16 in the second set, but Xue/Zhang ran off four of the last five points to wrap up the match in 36 minutes and avoid a repeat of Thursday afternoon’s full set marathon against Russia’s Maria Prokopeva/Ekaterina Khomyakova.
“We made less mistakes than we did yesterday,” said Xue Chen, who combined with Zhang Xi to take the title of the Fuzhou Open last week. “We found our rhythm and it’s good to win in two sets, especially after a tough tournament in Fuzhou.”
“Actually we were not in great shape last week and it took us much more energy than usual to play well, so we were a little bit tired coming into this tournament,” Xue added.
Thanks to the 2-0 victory, Xue/Zhang could rest their legs Friday afternoon as they earned a bye in the first elimination round where second and third finishers from eight round robin pools fought for their berths in the top 16.
Liliana Fernandez Steiner/Elasa Baquerizo McMillan of Spain and Germany’s Karin Holtwick Ilka Semmler, who finished second and third to Xue/Zhang at the Fuzhou Open, also advanced to the top 16 as winners from respective round robin pools.
Liliana/Baquerizo surprisingly eased past Czech Republic’s Marketa Slukova/Kristyna Kolocova, the top ranked team in pool F, 2-0 (21-15, 21-12) for their thir victory in a row following a pair of full set wins on Thursday.
“We feel very good! We’ve had a tough pool and the first two matches were 2-1, very tight, and we had to work really hard. This one was very hard too, because the girls from Czech are a very good team even though the score doesn’t represent how hard it is, ” said Baquerizo. “We are out of the pool as the first so we are very happy. ”
The Spanish duo would love to repeat the podium finish in Fuzhou, but they knew it would not be an easy task. “Of course we want it, but we need to focus on doing the things right, not thinking about the result and the result will come if we are playing good,” said Liliana. “We will keep improving our game and make things better, keep working. ”
The other teams unbeaten after the conclusion of the women’s pool play were April Ross/Jennifer Kessy of the United States and Yue Yuan/Ma Yuanyuan from China, the winners of pool D and H respectively.
Later on Friday, Salgado sisters recovered soon enough from the loss to Xue/Zhang to upset Italy’s Marta Menegatti/Greta Cicolari 2-1 (21-19, 18-21, 15-12) in the first round of the knockout stage and the 2011 Shanghai Open champions Marleen Van Iersel/Sanne Keizer swept Nadine Zumkehr/Joana Heidrich of Switzerland 2-0 (21-14, 21-16) to keep alive their title hopes.
Chinese wild card players Jin Jieqiong and Miao Chenchen, who had pulled off a surprising victory over Iersel/Keizer on Thursday, qualified for the elimination round as second finishers from pool B before falling to Dutch women Jantine van der Vlist/Marloes Wesselink 2-1 (23-21, 19-21, 15-10).
The $220,000 Shanghai Grand Slam, the first of a FIVB-record 10 Grand Slam events on the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar, will continue on Saturday with men’s semifinals and finals as well as two rounds of women’s elimination matches.