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Mixed day for leading lights on opening day in Rome

Jennifer Fopma (left) and Brooke Sweat made their presence known on the first day of competition at the Rome Grand Slam
Rome, Italy, June 19, 2013 – Beach volleyball’s leading teams didn’t have it all their own way on the opening day of the smart Grand Slam - Rome with a number of lower-ranked teams stepping up and causing an upset. 

The biggest surprise in the women’s draw came as USA pair and 24th seeds Jennifer Fopma and Brooke Sweat held on to defeat Italy’s eighth-seeded Laura Giombini and Daniela Gioria 2-1 (17-21, 21-7, 15-12). In the same pool Germany’s 25th-seeded Jana Kohler and Anni Schumacher enjoyed a 2-1 (14-21, 21-15, 15-10) win over ninth seeds Carolina and Maria-Clara Salgado from Brazil. 

Finland’s 23rd seeds Emilia and Erika Nystrom meanwhile only needed two sets to beat Spain’s 10th-seeded Liliana Fernandez-Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo-McMillan 2-0 (24-22, 21-17).

Matters were slightly more straightforward in the men’s competition, but the biggest upset came when 22nd seeds Philip Gabathuler and Jonas Weingart of Switzerland beat Austria’s 11th seeds Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst 2-0 (21-19, 21-19). 

Ludwig and Walkenhorst make perfect start with two wins from two 

In the women’s draw Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst laid down a marker to the rest of the field two wins from two on the opening day of competition, all without dropping a set.

First off they defeated their fellow Germans Britta Buthe and Karla Borger 2-0 (21-10, 21-17), then silenced the Italian supporters at the Foro Italico with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) victory against home favourites Marta Menegatti and Greta Cicolari. 

Also going through the first day unbeaten were Sophie van Gestel and Madelein Meppelink. The Dutch pair enjoyed a morning victory over Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Heather Bansley 2-0 (21-16, 21-9) and then returned the court in the evening to beat the USA’s Lauren Fendrick and Brittany Hochevar 2-1 (21-13, 15-21, 15-11). MORE

Rosenthal celebrates birthday with opening day win 

Sean Rosenthal ensured that his birthday celebrations wouldn’t be marred by a shock result when he and Phil Dalhausser beat Spain’s Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira 2-0 (21-19, 21-14). 

It was a tough opening match for the third seeds, who found themselves up against one of the most experienced pairings on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World tour, one that contains an Olympic silver medallist in Herrera. 

Meanwhile The Hague Grand Slam gold medallists Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Pedro Salgado faced Italian pair Matteo Cecchini and Federico Morichelli and while they were pushed hard, they had too much class and finished with a 2-0 (21-12, 21-14) win. MORE

The Rome Grand Slam is the fourth Grand Slam of 10 on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. The competition runs from June 17 until June 23, when both the men’s and women’s finals take place. 

Following the Rome Grand Slam, the world’s leading players take a week’s break before the start of the ninth FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Stare Jablonki from July 1-7. After the World Championships are completed the World Tour resumes the following week at the Gstaad Grand Slam in the Swiss Alps. 

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