Moscow, Russia, Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca remained “perfect” in Russia after defeating Renata Ribeiro and Vanilda Leao for the gold medal in the All-Brazilian women’s finale here Saturday afternoon at the US$600,000 Grand Slam Moscow 2009 presented by SEAT.
Combined with 2005, 2006 and 2007 titles in St. Petersburg, Juliana and Larissa have won four times in the Eurasian country. In winning their third SWATCH title this season, Juliana and Larissa also erased the memories of the past two weeks in Norway and Switzerland where the Brazilians finished second.
With their 21-18 and 21-19 victory in 47 minutes over Renata and Leao before an over-flowing crowd of 4,000 on the Poklonnaya Gora (Victory Park) centre court, Juliana and Larissa shared the $43,500 first-place prize in winning their 24th SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal since the start of their partnership in 2004.
Saturday’s gold medal team had missed the inaugural Moscow women’s event last year when Juliana was sidelined with knee problems that required surgery a month later to force her to withdraw from competing in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games where the Brazilians had qualified as the No. 3 team.
Juliana, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the Grand Slam Moscow 2009, and Larissa also entered Sunday’s final with a 0-3 personal record against Renata and Leao, who had defeated their compatriots at the end of May in Korea at a FIVB stop in Seoul after posting a pair of wins in March and April on the Brazilian domestic tour.
“First of all, it is great to be back on top of the podium,” said Juliana, who will celebrate her 26th birthday Wednesday at the next SWATCH FIVB World Tour Grand Slam stop in Marseille, France. “The past two weeks have been very disappointing since we played good enough to win, but could not make the big plays to win those matches against two very good teams.”
Referring to their first win over Renata and Leao, Juliana said “the victory was very meaningful since we had failed in our previous three matches against them. They are a very experienced team that competes very hard. They had our number going into the match, so we are glad to reverse the outcome this afternoon.”
The 27-year old Larissa was “extremely pleased” about winning in Russia for the fourth-straight time. “Juliana and I really enjoy playing in front of the Russian fans. They are very supportive of our play. We liked playing in such a historic place like St. Petersburg and are just as excited to win in the Russian capital today. It is not from Russia with love, but to Russia with much love from Juliana and me.”
Both teams had to win mid-day semi-final matches Saturday to advance to the 40th All-Brazilian finale on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour in 193 events since the start of women’s international Beach Volleyball competition in 1992. The match was also Juliana and Larissa’s 40th SWATCH finale as compared to Renata and Leao’s first.
Renata and Leao, who split $29,500 for their best SWATCH finish together this season, advanced first to the gold medal match by scoring a 21-15, 13-21 and 15-9 win in 51 minutes over seventh-seeded Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig. Juliana and Larissa out-lasted eighth-seeded Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler 21-16, 23-25 and 15-6 in their 57-minute semi-final match.
In the All-German bronze medal match featuring the top two teams on the European tour, Goller and Ludwig posted a 21-16, and 21-18 victory in 38 minutes over Holtwick and Semmler. Goller and Ludwig shared $23,500 for their second third-place SWATCH finish this season while their compatriots split $18,400. It was the eighth meeting between the two teams with Goller and Ludwig winning six times, including 3-1 on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour.
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images