Volleyball deja vu on day 1 of World Grand Prix Finals
Lausanne, Switzerland, August 27, 2013 – As the countdown to the much awaited World Grand Prix Finals begins, the first day of play will feature a repeat of the 2012 Olympic Games final between volleyball powerhouses, world No. 1 USA and No. 2 Brazil. The two countries get set to face each other for the nineteenth time in the 21st edition of the World Grand Prix Finals scheduled to begin in Sapporo, Japan on Wednesday.
This is the 10th consecutive season that Olympic champions Brazil have qualified for the Finals and this will also be the tenth Finals participation by the triple defending champions, USA.
Although Brazil won 3-1 against the US in the first week of preliminary round play, they have finished runners up to the United States in each of the last three editions. And four of Brazil’s last five World Grand Prix defeats have been in the hands of the USA.
Brazil and the US currently share the record of three straight titles with the former having won in 2004, 2005 and 2006 while the latter in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Although the US are hoping to be the first country to win the World Grand Prix in four consecutive years, history bodes well for Brazil who have held the trophy high the last three times the Finals were held in Japan (2005, 2008, 2009). However, they will each have to work hard for a spot on the podium - the USA are currently in fourth place after the preliminary round and Brazil in second after China.
The other matches on the opening day of Finals play will feature Serbia against China, the only unbeaten team in the World Grand Prix who finished the 2013 World Grand Prix Preliminary Round at the top of the table with nine wins (five in straight sets) in the first weeks. China will be participating in the World Grand Prix for a record 20th season but this will be the second Finals participation for Serbia, who are currently ranked third after the preliminary round.
The two countries have met each other three times before in the World Grand Prix, with Serbia winning twice. However, Serbia will be keen to overturn the results of this year’s preliminary when they were beaten by China in five sets. With this result China have beaten all the opponents they have ever played in World Grand Prix competition.
In the last match of the day, hosts Japan will take on Italy in their 16th meeting in the World Grand Prix. Japan is the only country out of the six finalists to have never made the World Grand Prix podium while Italy’s best results in the tournament has been a silver medal finish in 2004 and 2005. World No. 3. Japan, have beaten world No. 4, Italy only once in their last five World Grand Prix matches while three of Italy’s last four wins over Japan in the tournament were in straight sets. Japan will be looking to put their star spiker Risa Shinnabe through her paces, after she finished the preliminary round with a 45.19% success rate.
This is the fifth time that Japan has held the World Grand Prix Finals but the first for Sapporo after Kobe (1997), Sendai (2005), Yokohama (2008) and Tokyo (2009).
The winner of the 2013 World Grand Prix Finals will be crowned on September 1.
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