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Talita and Lima break German hearts with gold at Berlin smart Grand Slam

Taiana (left) and Talita added a fifth gold medal to their collections in 2013, after winning the Berlin smart Grand Slam
Berlin, Germany, August 11, 2013 – Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima broke German hearts when they fought back from four match points down to beat Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler and win the Berlin smart Grand Slam gold medals on Sunday. 

The Brazilians blocked out the Berlin centre court crowd to beat the number one German team 2-1 (16-21, 23-21, 15-12) in the gold medal match.

“This was a tough match,” Talita said. “They were playing at home, they were playing well, but at 20-17, we never gave up and kept trying and trying.

“At 20-17 all the pressure was on them. Before then we were a little nervous because we were a little tired, but we never gave up and we always thought we could do it.”

Holtwick and Semmler started in fantastic style and rocked Talita and Lima back with their aggressive start that put them 6-0 ahead before the Brazilians scored a point. The Germans stayed ahead in for most of the second, but with four match points on offer, the Brazilians showed their class to turn the match around and start their comeback. 

It is the fifth time in their debut season that Talita and Lima have won Grand Slam gold medals after previous success at The Hague, Shanghai, Rome and Long Beach Grand Slams. They also won bronze medals at the Gstaad Grand Slam, while Talita continues to be unbeaten in career Grand Slam finals.

The pair entered the tournament as World Tour ranking leaders and their performance in Berlin has kept Holtwick and Semmler at bay in second place. 

“It was a good match and I enjoyed every moment of it,” Taiana added. “For me I am so happy to have five gold medals now. I have to thank Talita, who held us together throughout the match.”

Silver lining for Holtwick and Semmler

Just under a year ago Holtwick and Semmler won their first gold medals at the Aland Open and since then have added four bronze medals from FIVB tournaments. 

Even though they didn’t win their first ever Grand Slam gold, the silver medal winning performance was the best from any of the German sides in Berlin. 

“It hurts to lose this final here in Berlin,” Holtwick said. “We should have been more aggressive in attack. You don´t get lots of chances to win against this top Brazilian team and we missed our match points that would have won it.”

Fopma and Sweat enjoy taste of bronze

USA’s Jennifer Fopma and Brooke Sweat won their first ever World Tour medals when they beat Czech Republic’s Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova 2-1 (21-18, 17-21, 15-12) in the bronze medal match.

Both teams were going for their first ever World Tour podium place and the Americans started stronger. While they maintained their momentum at the start of the second set a well-placed time-out gave the Czechs the chance to regroup and draw level.

“We just had to keep battling,” Sweat said. “We got down a few times, but we knew if we stayed calm, controlled our side we could battle back and that’s how we did it.” 

Fopma and Sweat rediscovered their rhythm in the tie-break though and won to improve on their previous best, which was a quarterfinal finish at the Gstaad Grand Slam. 

“I think we started the tournament really slow and we weren’t playing our best,” Fopma said. “So each match we tried to get better and better. Once we played Jen and April, Kessy and Ross, we played our best match against them and I think that gave us a lot of confidence going into the rest of the playoffs.”

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 concluded with the women’s gold and bronze medal matches on Sunday August 11, while the men’s medal matches took place on Saturday August 10. 

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