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Second back-to-back victory for Keizer and Van lersel in thrilling finale to Myslowice Open
The Netherlands’ Sanne Keizer and Marleen Van Iersel rallied past Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti from Italy in two sets to snatch their second consecutive Swatch FIVB World Tour title after winning the $190,000 Myslowice Open on Sunday.
Van Iersel/Keizer, whose previous best finish on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour prior to the Shanghai Open this month was a bronze at the Osaka Open in 2009, defeated the number 14 seeds Cicolari/Menegatti 21-17, 21-18 in 36 minutes despite Cicolari/Menegatti leading the head to head match-up between the two sides 2-0 coming into the match, which included a 2-0 (21-18, 21-19) win in round three of the Myslowice Open on Friday. Both finalists came up through the losers’ bracket.
“It was a great tournament, we started well. We did have to fight back through the losers bracket but we just kept on playing and it worked,” Van Iersel said. “ It was a great opportunity to play in the tournament and it was fun because we have been beaten by Italy before in this tournament.”
Both teams were equally matched in the first half of the first set with superb defending and attacking. But the number six seeds opened up a lead thanks to some magnificent blocking from Keizer to take the final point in the first set on 20-17.
Fired up by the loss of the first set Cicolari/Menegatti took an early lead but Keizer/Van Iersel, fresh from their first title in Shanghai, were in no mood to let a second title slip from their fingers. Equalising at 15-15 the Dutch pair, who defeated double Olympic champion Kerri Walsh and new partner Brittany Hochevar as well as world champions April Ross and Jennifer Kessy from the USA on Saturday, raced ahead to take the final set 21-18.
Kessy and Ross had to make do with bronze earlier on Sunday, rallying past Germany’s Sarah Goller and Laura Ludwig winning the match 2-0 (23-21, 21-15) in 39 minutes. The Americans, who started the bronze medal match as hot favourites leading the head to head 8-2, had to come from behind in the first set after trailing 14-11.
The number two seeds, who beat the German pairing 2-0 (21-14, 21-14) in the Sanya Open in their last meeting, stepped up their defence and serving to take the set 23-21 when Ludwig’s hit went out.
“In the first set we were making errors but that’s fixable, we were being too cautious,” Ross said. “We were upset with our defence yesterday so we tried to come up with a better strategy.”
The number four seeds attempted a comeback in the second set but Kessy/ Ross, who lost 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) to silver medallists Cicolari/Menegatti in the semifinals on Saturday, didn’t look back after taking the lead early on, winning the second set and match with a five point lead.
“Taking nothing away from this match I really wanted to win yesterday’s match [which they lost 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) to Cicolari/Menegatti] but to come back in this match was good,” added Ross. “It’s definitely satisfactory to get on the podium. The weather threw us yesterday and being that serving is such a strong part of our game we had a hard time. We did not play well. In our minds this is all good preparation for the Grand Slam in Beijing [June 7-11] and World Championships [in Rome June 13-19].”
The last two remaining Brazilian teams fell on the penultimate day of competition, number one seeds Antonelli/Talita losing 1-2 (21-19, 17-21, 13-15) to silver medallists Cicolari/Menegatti in a tournament of upsets, which saw many of the favourites fail to make it into the final stages. It was the first time Brazil was not represented in the Final Four since Phuket at the end of 2009.
“The Brazilians are just as good as they ever were but everyone else is getting to the same level. Everyone has caught up and it’s anyone’s game,” Kessy said.
“The European teams are catching up to the Brazilians, even in Italy we do not have a great tradition in playing beach volleyball but this is changing,” agreed Cicolari.
The Myslowice Open, which took place May 17-22, is the second single-gender event on this year’s circuit and the fourth overall for women after stops in Brasilia, Sanya and Shanghai.
The second FIVB Swatch World Tour event in Poland for the fourth consecutive year will be the $600,000 Mazuri Orlen Grand Slam to be held from July 25 to 31 in Stare Jablonki. The Stare Jablonki tournament is the fifth of six double-gender Grand Slam events on the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour schedule.