Berlin, Germany, July 12, 2007
Being played at three sites, including three courts in front of the main train station at the Washingtonplatz, reigning Olympic and world champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States protected their top-seed for the 24-team single-elimination bracket by winning Pool A with three wins Thursday to earn a “bye” for Friday’s first-round.
Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil, who were defeated for the gold medal in the 2005 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in the German capital by May-Treanor and Walsh, also earned a “bye” as the second-seeded team after winning all three of their Pool B matches Thursday.
May-Treanor and Walsh, who have captured two of the last three SWATCH stops in Paris and Montreal, earned the top-seed in the elimination rounds on the strength of their “perfect” set ratio (6-0) as Juliana and Larissa dropped a set in their final match against a team from the Netherlands to finish at 6-1.
“I’m feeling a lot better this week,” said May-Treanor, who captured the first-ever women’s Berlin event in 2000 with Holly McPeak. “I really had trouble breathing in Canada last week. The cool and damp weather today wasn’t the best today for my chest congestion, but I had no problems breathing.”
Third-seeded Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China, the top women’s team on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, also ended group play with a 3-0 Pool C record to end up on the same side of the elimination bracket with Juliana and Larissa. The Chinese pair won the season-opening FIVB event in Shanghai before placing second in four of the last seven SWATCH stops.
The competition for the fourth-seed in the upper half of the bracket with May-Treanor and Walsh was won by 20th-seeded Milagros Crespo and Imara Esteves Ribalta of Cuba, who used a 21-16 and 35-33 win over legendary Brazilians Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede to advance as the fourth-seeded team from Pool D into the elimination bracket. It marked the third-straight grand slam that the Cubans have posted a 2-1 pool record, however, it is the first-time Crespo and Esteves Ribalta have earned a “bye” for the first-round of the elimination play.
Other pool winners Thursday earning first-round “byes” were fifth-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang of China (Pool E), sixth-seeded Vasso Karadassiou/Vassiliki Arvaniti of Greece (Pool F), eighth-seeded Nicole Branagh/Elaine Youngs of the United States (Pool H) and 10th-seeded Rieke Brink-Abeler/Hella Jurich of Germany (Pool G). The Americans and Greeks will be in the top-half of the elimination bracket while the Chinese and Germans ended up in the lower half.
The sixth of 13 double gender events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar, the 12th annual Smart Grand Slam will feature three women’s elimination rounds Friday along with the completion of the men’s final two rounds of pool play.
The women’s semi-finals and medal matches will be played Saturday where the final two teams compete for the $43,500 first-place prize. The men’s elimination matches will be Saturday followed by the semi-finals and medal matches Sunday.
Fourth is no good enough