Fuzhou Open starts Tuesday with men's qualifying
The $175,000 Fuzhou Open has attracted a total of 121 teams attending from 35 countries (66 men's teams from 29 countries and 55 women's teams from 25 countries). The season-opening event will see men's action running from Tuesday through Saturday and women's competition running from Wednesday through Sunday, using a format of a one-day qualification tournament to determine the final eight spots in each gender's 32-team main draw tournaments followed by round-robin pool play and a single-elimination bracket for the final 24 teams.
The winning teams in each gender will share the $11,000 first-place prize.
Leading the way on the men's side are 2013 World Championship runners-up Ricardo Alex Costa Santos and Alvaro Morais Filho. They will be the top seeded men's team in the tournament and will be joined by two other Brazilian teams in the main draw including new pair Pedro Solberg Salgado and Emanuel Rego.
Beijing Olympic gold medalist Philip Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal of the United States will be seeking to retain their title while Latvia's Aleksandrs Samoilovs and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Janis Smedins, who finished atop the 2013 FIVB World Tour season rankings in their first year of partnership, are also in the running.
Spain, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands will each field two pairs in the Main Draw.
Hosts China has three teams in the Main Draw spearheaded by Li Jian/Wu Jiaxin. The other two are Likejiang Ha/Cheng Chen and Cong Yang/Jian Bao.
Following Monday's technical meeting Vitor Felipe and Evandro Oliveira of Brazil were listed the top seeds for the men's Qualification Tournament.
On the women's side, 2013 world champion Xue Chen, who is a Fuzhou native, and Xia Xinyi will be the centre of attention. Last year Xue Chen and her former partner Zhang Xi started their fruitful season by clinching the gold medal here. This time Xue, playing with 17-year-old Xia, will look to retain the title at her hometown.
"We are still accumulating experiences and building rapport," said Xue. "We will spare no efforts to win."
Xue and Xia are the team to watch in Fuzhou, but the No. 1 seeded women's team is the Brazilian duo of Talita Da Rocha Antunes and Taiana Lima, who won five Grand Slam events on the FIVB World Tour in 2013. Also from Brazil, Maria Clara Salgado Rufino and Carolina Solberg Salgado, who have three top three finishes last year, are also a force.
Three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh and 2012 Olympic silver medalist April Ross, from USA, are serious title contenders as well.
The two other Chinese women's team in the Main Draw are Fan Wang/Yuan Yue, Yuanyuan Wang/Yuanyuan Ma and Chen Xue/Xinyi Xia. China's two teams in the women's Qualification Tournament are Meimei Lin/Ningya Tang and Xinxin Wang/Yixin Zheng.
Fuzhou, capital of the Fujian province lies on the southeast coast of Chinese mainland and hosts the Open event for the second straight year.
In addition to the FIVB Fuzhou Open, two other stops are scheduled in China in 2014 on the FIVB international schedule: the FIVB Shanghai Grand Slam (April 29 to May 4) and the FIVB Xiamen Open (October 7 to 12). All three will be double-gender events.
The 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour will include 10 Grand Slam events, a new FIVB Grand Slam Final and 11 FIVB Beach Volleyball Open events.
Fuzhou Open Tournament Page
Fuzhou Open Tournament Notes