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Zumkehr and Kuhn claim gold in Rome with win over Goller and Ludwig
Rome, Italy, June 17, 2012 – Nadine Zumkehr and Simone Kuhn claimed their first ever FIVB SWATCH World Tour grand slam gold with a win over Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig in the final of the smart Grand Slam, Rome on Sunday.
The Swiss pair found their rhythm early on, controlled the match from start to finish and claimed the gold medal with a 21-12, 21-18 victory.
“It is unbelievable,” Zumkehr said. “It definitely wasn’t easy. In the first set we served really, really well. It may have seemed easy, but we knew that they would come out in the second set and make it very hard and tough.
“That is how it was. We were behind and we knew that it would be a lot of work, but we believed in ourselves and served well.”
It is the pairs’ first gold medal on the World Tour since 2009 Sanya Open. Since then the best they have managed is four quarterfinal places.
The Swiss pair dominated their German opponents from the start and Kuhn continued her impressive form at the net. The result ended a week in which they twice beat local favourites Marta Menegatti and Greta Cicolari and eliminated number one seeds Chen Xue and Zhang Xi.
“Yesterday in the semifinal she was a monster at the net and I didn’t have too much responsibility behind her,” Zumkehr added.
“Today our side-out wasn’t that great, but our block defence was really good and I think that was the key.”
Jennifer Kessy and April Ross claimed the bronze medal with a win over Italians Cicolari and Menegatti.
The USA pair won the first set, but the local favourites fought back in the second before Kessy and Ross silenced the Foro Italico crowd with a 21-17, 15-21, 15-13 victory.
The medals are Kessy and Ross’ first of 2012. Their most recent appearance on a World Tour podium came at the 2011 Thailand Open in Phuket.
“We are delighted with our bronze. It is our first medal since Thailand last year,” Kessy said. “Every time we play this Italian team it is 15-13 in the third.
“It is always a tough game against them and to beat them at home for the bronze is a big deal for us. They have played great all tournament and made it tough for us today.”
The smart Grand Slam, Rome is the sixth tournament on the women’s FIVB SWATCH World Tour, which features 12 events and culminates with the Bangsaen Thailand Open powered by PTT in October.
Rome is the last tournament in which world ranking points count towards qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games and the winning team left with a prize of $43,000.