Big names pushed hard on opening day in Moscow
The reigning FIVB Beach Volleyball men’s world champions Robert Meeuwsen and Alexander Brouwer were pushed hard in their opener, while the returning Juliana Felisberta and Maria Antonelli defeated fellow Brazilians and fourth seeds Maria-Clara and Carolina Salgado.
However, Russia’s leading male team, Konstantin Semenov and Viacheslav Krasilnikov and female duo, Evgenia Ukolova and Maria Prokopeva ended the day unbeaten.
By the end of the day the women’s pools had taken shape after two matches, with the first and second seeds Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima and April Ross and Kerri Walsh winning twice. Both men and women complete pool play on Friday, with the men playing twice and the women once.
World champs pushed hard by US qualifiers in Moscow
World champions Meeuwsen and Brouwer were pushed all the way by US qualifiers John Hyden and Tri Bourne before winning 2-1 (19-21, 21-15, 18-16) in 56 minutes.
Meeuwsen and Brouwer were the shock victors and completely surpassed their best result when they won the 2013 World Championships.
This season their progress has been hampered by a knee injury to Meeuwsen. However, with the 206cm blocker close to full fitness they are beginning to look forward to the rest of 2014 in a positive manner.
“The only thing missing is a lack of rhythm and a lack of practice, but it is getting better every day and we are fighting harder every day,” Meeuwsen said.” Every ball touch is good, so the more the better and mentally this match was good too, we had to fight to win.”
Brazil pair taking steps in the right direction in Moscow
Maria Antonelli and Juliana may only be in their first season together on the World Tour, but on Thursday they gave a glimpse of their potential as a pair.
The Brazilians began with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-16) win over their compatriots and 2013 Moscow gold medallists Maria-Clara and Carolina Salgado and they then followed up with a hard-fought 2-1 (21-17, 19-21, 15-12) victory against newly-crowned CEV European champions Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel of the Netherlands.
Juliana is returning after missing the 2013 season and the pair won silver medals at the 2014 Fuzhou Open in China and the Puerto Vallarta Open in Mexico.
“Juliana is very happy and she talks a lot during the matches,” Maria Antonelli said. “She talked a lot today and knows what she is talking about. It is our first World Tour together and we are enjoying it a lot.”
“I’m enjoying playing again,” Juliana added. “I’m starting as part of a new team and I love playing with her. I expect to play well and to have to work a lot. We feel good about it and we are taking it step by step.”
The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Moscow Grand Slam runs from Wednesday, June 11 through to Sunday June 15. It is the sixth event and the second Grand Slam on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar that features nine Grand Slams and 11 Open tournaments.
The 2014 World Tour began at the Fuzhou Open in China in April and concludes at the Durban Open in South Africa in December. Next up on the World Tour calendar is the Berlin Grand Slam which runs from June 17-22.