Nadine Zumkehr and Joana Heidrich didn’t hang around as the women’s main draw opened at the Stavanger Grand Slam, with the Swiss pair winning their first two pool matches in straight sets.
First of all they defeated China’s Fan Wang and Yuan Yue 2-0 (25-23, 21-17) and then rounded off the day by defeating Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst 2-0 (21-13, 21-12).
“It was very good out on the court,” Zumkehr said. “We did not expect to win two straight sets, because they are a very good team, but they have not played for a couple of weeks.
“We tried to take our chances and I think we had a great match. We put a lot of pressure on them, so we are really happy to have won against such a good team.”
Zumkehr and Heidrich are slowly building as the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour progresses and they achieved their best result of the season a week ago at the Berlin Grand Slam where they reached the second elimination round.
Since teaming up at the start of 2013 their best result together was a quarterfinal finish at the 2013 Rome Grand Slam, but for the moment they are focusing solely on their final pool match against Sweden’s Nina Grawender and Karin Lundqvist on Thursday.
“I always try not to think about the rest of the tournament, just play one game after the other,” Zumkehr said. “For sure this was an important win, but the tournament goes on.
“With the system in the Grand Slams, everything is always possible, and we try to play well. We had two good games today and we will try to keep on doing this.”
Brazilians hit stride early on
Barbara Seixas and Agatha Bednarczuk also made a perfect start as they ended the day without dropping a set.
The Brazilians began by defeating the Nystrom sister’s Erika and Emilia 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) before completing their day with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) win over Canada’s Jamie-Lyn Broder and Kristina Valjas.
“It was great playing out there,” Seixas said. “It is kind of windy here, so we had to focus a lot otherwise the ball would not do what we wanted it to do.
“The Canadians played really well. We had to neutralize them with a good serve; I think that was the most important thing. We played well in defence and kept going on the side-out and I think it was a great match.”
Agatha and Seixas are the highest ranked Brazilian pair in the women’s draw and they are ranked fourth overall.
They have already enjoyed success on the 2014 World Tour. They won the Puerto Vallarta Open in Mexico and won bronze at the Shanghai Grand Slam, but in Stavanger they are doing their best to downplay expectations.
“We try to focus on each game, that is important, because the matches are pretty tough,” Seixas added.
“We have to focus on each game at a time, so that we do not create a lot of expectation or frustration. It is good for us, because we have to stay on the ground and try to focus on every game.”
The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Stavanger Grand Slam runs from Wednesday, June 25 until Sunday June 29. It is the eighth event and the fourth 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 Gstaad Grand Slam which runs from July 9-13.