Home favourites delight Gstaad crowd by eliminating top seeds
The Swiss pair were roared on by a near-capacity centre court crowd to beat the winners of the Moscow and Stavanger Grand Slams and the Fuzhou Open 2-0 (21-19, 21-15).
“Joana was amazing today,” Zumkehr said. “She made life very easy for me with how she played at the net. She made herself so big and blocked everything.
“We went into that match just thinking about doing what we could and doing our best, but not expecting much.”
Zumkehr’s best result on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour was a gold medal winning performance alongside Simone Kuhn at the 2012 Rome Grand Slam.
Following Kuhn’s retirement following the London 2012 Olympic Games she teamed up with Heidrich and their best also came in Rome, when they reached the quarterfinals in 2013, a mark they have now equalled in front of their home fans.
“It is amazing, I don’t think any words can describe it,” Heidrich said. “It is the best win this season and in my career, so it is great.
“Rome was great achievement too because we beat some great teams, but this is home and our fans. We’ve beaten the best team two nil and they are the best team at the moment, so for us it is amazing.”
Semmler and Holtwick working back to best
Ilka Semmler and Katrin Holtwick showed that they are returning to their best form when they too reached the women’s quarterfinals.
The pair endured a few wobbles early in the tournament, but after reaching the first elimination round with a record of one win and two losses in pool play, they began to hit their stride in the first and second elimination rounds.
First they defeated Maria-Clara and Carolina Salgado 2-1 (14-21, 22-20, 17-15) and then followed up with another 2-1 (21-10, 18-21, 15-13) victory, this time against USA’s Whitney Pavlik and Jennifer Fopma.
“It was open till the very last point and it was a match like the one we had against them in Stavanger,” Holtwick said. “We won the first set comfortably, but couldn’t make it in two and then it was a tough three-setter.
“Of course it is nice that we won this week. We had to concentrate and focus hard as it was really close, but it was really fun.”
The pair haven’t been at their best in recent tournaments and failed to progress from the pool stages at both the Moscow and Berlin Grand Slams.
It was the first real downturn in form since they began to establish themselves as a team that are able to fight for a place on a podium, a fact underlined by their one World Tour gold, two silvers and four bronze.
“The best thing is we’ve shown we can win three setters,” Holtwick added. “Of course it is more comfortable to win in two, but we had a few weeks before Stavanger where we didn’t play well and weren’t in the form we expected.
“I think we were a little nervous. I hope we are now back and hopefully have a 2-0 win tomorrow.”