Top of the world returns to Berlin’s ‘Mitte’ for the FIVB smart Grand Slam
In between the central station, the chancellery and the Reichstag (the parliament building) a 4.000-seat arena has arisen. The $800.000 Berlin smart Grand Slam will also set up courts at Germany’s largest beach volleyball club Beach Mitte, 15 minutes down the road. Tournament director Siegbert Brutschin counts on a fantastic atmosphere.
“We have the best beach volleyball players in the world coming here, in one of the most beautiful cities, and an amazing venue. This will be a world class event for both players and spectators”, he said at Monday's press conference.
Especially the German national players are looking forward to the event. “Our sport becomes more and more popular and has the attention of a lot of people”, said Matisik, who won bronze at the World Championships with Jonathan Erdmann last year. “Playing beach volleyball in the heart of Berlin and near the government quarters will be a special experience for all of us athletes.”
Last year’s silver medallist Katrin Holtwick: “I wouldn’t say no to first place this time. Supported by our home crowd we will try to deliver a similar performance. Holtwick and her partner Ilka Semmler lost the final last year to Brazil’s Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima.
The Berlin smart Grand Slam starts with the women’s qualification on Tuesday, with Brazil’s Maria Antonelli and Juliana Felisberta de Silva leading the field. A total of 21 teams are competing for 8 spots in main draw. The men will take to the sand on Wednesday. Both finals will be played on Sunday.
Top of the world
Among the teams that travelled to Berlin are the European champions Madelein Meppelink and Marleen van Iersel (NED) and Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo (ITA) and the Moscow champions April Ross and Kerri Walsh (USA) and Konstantin Semenov and Viacheslav Krasilnikov (RUS).
Also competing in Berlin are world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen (NED) and last year’s gold medallists Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima (BRA) and Vitor Felipe and Evandro Goncalves (BRA).
Germany’s top team Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst had to forfeit due to injury. Walkenhorst has an inflammation of the shoulder.
The FIVB World Tour is in Germany for the 15th time for men and the ninth time for a women’s tournament. All of the FIVB World Tour events have been held in Berlin and this will be the third straight year Berlin has hosted an FIVB World Tour stop. Berlin also hosted the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in 2005.