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Russians and Brazilians set for early showdown at Berlin smart Grand Slam

Russia's Evgenia Ukolova (left) and Ekaterina Khomyakova face a winner-takes-all match against the Salgado sisters on Friday
Berlin, Germany, August 8, 2013 – The women’s main draw got underway at the Berlin smart Grand Slam on Thursday with 32 teams slugging it out for control of the eight pools.

Russia’s Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova and Brazilian sisters Maria-Clara and Carolina Salgado will now face a winner takes all match on Friday to decide who will top their pool after winning both their matches. 

Elsewhere Germany’s leading side Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler and FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour ranking leaders Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima enjoyed a brace of victories.

In the men’s competition the pool phase drew to a close as teams jostled for position ahead of the elimination rounds.

The most intriguing match-up in the first elimination round pitches USA’s Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal against Brazil’s Ricardo Santos and Alvaro Filho.

Dalhausser and Rosenthal have won Grand Slams in Rome and Long Beach this year, while Ricardo and Alvaro claimed FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships silver medals and gold at the Gstaad Grand Slam.  

Kessy and Ross banish Olympic thought to secure wins

A year to the day that they won silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Jennifer Kessy and April Ross made a winning start to pool play. 

First up they faced Argentina’s Ana Gallay and Georgina Klug and won 2-0 (21-10, 21-9), then returned to court in the early evening to beat Finnish sisters Erika and Emilia Nystrom with another 2-0 (21-12, 21-16) victory.

“This one was a little bit bitter-sweet,” Ross said about the loss to Walsh and Misty May-Treanor in the London final. “Yesterday was our big anniversary because it was when we beat the Brazilians (Juliana Felisberta and Larissa Franca) in the semifinals, though it was awesome to get that silver medal.” MORE

Home favourites made to fight

Germany’s leading pair Holtwick and Semmler were made to fight to finish the day with two wins from two.

They needed to beat the Czech Republic’s Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova, who were also chasing a second win and were made to battle for a 2-1 (21-16, 16-21, 15-12) victory. MORE

World leaders roar into form

FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour leaders Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs demonstrated their new-found status by wrapping up pool pay with their third win from three on Thursday.

The pair topped their pool and went straight into the second elimination round with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) win over Australia’s Christopher McHugh and Isaac Kapa in 35 minutes.

Italy’s Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo were another team to make it through pool play with three victories under their belts. 

Their third was the toughest so far in the tournament, but they came back from losing the first set to beat world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen 2-1 (13-21, 21-9, 15-9) in 41 minutes. MORE

The Berlin smart Grand Slam is the seventh Grand Slam on the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, which is comprised of 10 Grand Slam events and the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships. There are also eight Open events and while they are not part of the World Tour, they still count towards the FIVB World Rankings and help open the door for development of the sport. 

The tournament concludes with the women’s gold and bronze medal matches on Sunday August 11, while the men’s medal matches take place on Saturday August 10. 

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