Swiss Isabelle Forrer/Sarah Schmocker in the match against Chinese
Beijing, China, August 16, 2007 - The other four matches will be played later in the evening.
Zhang and Ji overcame a sluggish start to rally past fellow-Chinese Lin Xianling/Lin Donghe, lucky losers from last night, 21-23, 21-17, 15-9 in about an hour.
The other lucky losers Cao Na and Zhao Xiaolin, also from China, had some bad luck earlier in the day's first match as they failed to keep consistency losing to Swiss Isabelle Eusabeth Klara Forrer/Sarah Schmocker 2-1, who booked the ticket to the top eight.
In-form Cao and Lin were unable to stop the Swiss team after losing the third set 15-10.
"It was the first time to play in full sets since the opening of the tournament, our opponents are also the strongest," team captain Forrer said. "We did a good job in serve in the deciding set, hence the hard-fought victory."
Coming into the round of 16 on a three-match winning streak, the second seeds fought back from 19-17 down in the opening set, reeling off four straight points before winning at 21-19.The Chinese duo squared the match at 21-16 in the second set.
The host fans then became much noisier when Shen Rongrong/Guo Qian and Li Yang/Hu Anna, both from China, came onto the 12,000-seat main court to book two more tickets to the quarterfinals at the test event for Beijing Olympics one year later.
Shen/Guo overcame Anouk Boileau/Marie-Christine Mondor of Canada 19-21, 21-15, 15-10 and Li/Hu made short work of Estonians Mari-Liis Graumann/Natalja Bratuhhina 21-13, 21-16.
"It's the best game we ever had in the tournament," Li said, "and in the previous matches we just played stressed volleyball. Today it's different. By reaching the last eight, we don't necessarily worry about the result. Just do it step by step."
After a loose first set, the Estonian duo found back their hard hitting and concentration at the start of the second, jumping at 9-8. However, Li and Hu also showed the battling qualities to reel off four points in a row en route to the convincing victory.
"We were in bad form and made too many mistakes, especially in spiking," Graumann said after the match.
Canadian Mondor did not shake off the injury to her foot after she landed on Shen's feet while blocking in the second set, causing their team the remaining match.
Top seeds Zhang and Ji, who had been criticized by their coach Zhang Zhenxi for their absent-minded and sloppy play in the preliminaries, were still looking for return in form, although they won all four matches thus far.
The challenger tournament, which is held at Chaoyang park in eastern Beijing, is played in the absence of the world's top teams who are competing in World Tour Finland Open, including China's top three duos.
– but the sailors praise the new boats
Photo Credit: Dario Belingheri/Bettini Photo