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13.07.2011 - Eleven teams still undefeated in Moscow GS

Moscow, Russia, July 13, 2011 – Eleven teams are still undefeated after two rounds of pool play on Wednesday at the $300,000 women’s Moscow Grand Slam. Brazil, China and the Czech Republic were most successful on the courts near the entrance of the Poklonnaya Gora, with each two teams without loss in the main draw. The other undefeated duos come from Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland and USA.

New and fairly unknown German team Britta Büthe and Karla Borger, winners of the Seoul Challenger in June, stood out on the third day of the women’s tournament in the historical heart of the Russian capital. The German qualifiers first beat Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger (2-1) from Austria, and then boldly took the first set against Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh. The American duo, seeded second, recovered in time and won eventually 2-1 (20-22 21-15 15-11).

“Ever since we were kids we wanted to play Misty and Kerri, they are the best team ever”, Büthe said after the game. “For us it was a big surprise that on the court they were just normal people. I think we won the first set because they have never played us before. After that the pressure they put on us was too high, it was hard to concentrate. But we are very happy, especially with our win over the Schwaiger sisters.”

In pool H China’s Ying Huang and Yuan Yue were another surprise. The lucky losers from qualification upset 8th-seeded Maria Clara Salgado and Carolina Solberg. The Chinese, seeded only 25th, defeated the Brazilian sisters in three sets. In the afternoon they also beat home team and ninth seeded Anastasia Vasina and Anna Vozakova in three sets.

First seeded and world champions Larissa Franca and Juliana Felisberta Da Silva, who won the Gstaad Grand Slam last week, needed three sets to win their first match in Moscow. The bronze medallists of last year beat the Netherlands’ Madelein Meppelink and Marloes Wesselink 21-7 19-21 15-7 in 43 minutes. Their second game was easier: 21-17 21-14 in 34 minutes against Angela Akers and Nicole Branagh from USA.

Third seeded Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti from Italy had an easy start, beating Canadian qualifiers Heather Bansley/Elizabeth Maloney 21-16 21-12 in 34 minutes. Germany’s Jana Köhler/Julia Sude were next, the Italians needed 39 minutes this time (21-18 21-17).

Fourth seeded Chen Xue and Xi Yang, second in Gstaad last week and defending their title in Moscow, had no troubles in their first match against Dutch Roos van der Hoeven/Jantine van der Vlist (21-17 21-13). They needed three sets though to get by Italians Daniela Gioria/Giulia Momoli (21-12 19-21 15-9). The Chinese said they did not feel any pressure, being the defending champions. Xue: “Not much, as there are a lot of other good teams here. We actually felt more pressure in China, where we had to perform for our home audience.” Their best result in three tournaments in China this year was a silver medal in Sanya.

The teams that are still undefeated in Moscow are Juliana/Larissa, Talita Da Rocha Antunes/Maria Antonelli (BRA), Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova, Hana Klapalova/Lenka Hajeckova (CZE), Xue/Zhang, Huang/Yue (CHN), May-Treanor/Walsh (USA), Cicolari/Menegatti (ITA), Simone Kuhn/Nadine Zumkehr (SUI), Sanne Keizer/Marleen van Iersel (NED) and Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig (GER).

The third and last round of women’s pool play and the first knock out round are scheduled for Thursday. Pool winners get a bye in the first single elimination round, the numbers two and three of each pool start in the first round. Teams that finish fourth and last in the pool go home. After three rounds of single elimination the semi-finals and medal matches are played on Saturday. The men’s tournament is one day behind, playing their semi’s and final on Sunday.

The FIVB Swatch World Tour visits Moscow for the fourth straight time dating back to 2008. The gold medallists receive $43,500, the silver team $29,500 and the bronze $23,000.

The double gender Moscow Grand Slam is the 226th women’s event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour (open, grand slam, Olympic and Goodwill). The first women’s event was played August 14-16, 1992 at Almeria, Spain.

After the Moscow Grand Slam, the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour leaves Europe for North America for a double-gender Open in Québec, Canada from July 19-24. The following week, the tour returns to Europe for the final two double-gender Grand Slams in Stare Jablonski, Poland from July 25-31 and Klagenfurt, Austria from August 1-7.