Brasília, Brazil, When the sand settled following Tuesday’s first day of women’s Main Draw competition, eight teams remained undefeated in the double-elimination Brasília Open, the season-opening event of the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, being held in Brazil's capital.
Three teams from the United States and two from the host country Brazil won both their matches and also advancing after two wins each were one team each from Australia, China and Germany. With one loss each and still playing in the 32-team double-elimination tournament are 16 additional teams as eight teams were eliminated in the first day of play in the Main Draw.
With the world’s top teams in action, much of the spotlight was on the return of two-time Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States, who after an absence of over two years on the FIVB Swatch World Tour increased their FIVB record match win streak to 77 with a pair of victories over teams from Brazil and China to advance undefeated into Wednesday’s second day of Main Draw competition.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2011, the international beach volleyball circuit is starting with the US$380,000 Brasília Open for the third consecutive season. Competition will continue through Saturday on The Esplanada dos Ministérios in Quadrante 1.
Brazil has staged a FIVB Swatch World Tour event every year since the start of the international series for men in 1987 and women in 1992. This is the 33rd men’s event and 28th women’s tournament on the FIVB Swatch World Tour held in Brazil. This is also the 13th time Brazil has been the site of a season-opening event on the international circuit.
In addition to the seventh-seeded May-Treanor/Walsh, winning two matches Tuesday were two other teams from the USA advancing unbeaten were 12th-seeded Angie Akers/Nicole Branagh and 22nd-seeded Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Hanson.
Leading the Brazilian tandems on Tuesday was top-seeded defending FIVB Swatch World Tour winners and last year’s Brasília Open champions Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca, who defeated teams from Russia and Italy. Third-seeded compatriots Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes defeated duos from Germany and Switzerland.
The other teams still unbeaten are: Australia’s 25th-seeded Louise Bawden/Becchara Palmer, who came out of Monday’s qualifier to earn their Main Draw spot, China’s second-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang and Germany’s fourth-seeded Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig.
USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh have reunited after a career that earned them gold medals at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games in Athens and Beijing respectively. With 35 career FIVB Swatch World Tour gold medals, they began their return with a three-set win over Brazil’s 26th-seeded/Priscilla Lese Lima, 23-21, 19-21 and 15-11 in 45 minutes and ended their first day back with a two-set victory over China’s 23rd-seeded Ying Huang/Yuan Yue, 21-12, 21-14 in 29 minutes.
“I don’t have any words to express my happiness to be back to the FIVB World Tour, especially in Brazil,” said Walsh following her team’s second win of the day. “I was missing this atmosphere very much. Juliana and Larissa are great players and great opponents. Today they are the best in the world and this is exactly what Misty and I want to be again. Physically I feel great. I think that the mental part of the game, the nerves, the stress, I need to get used to it again.
"Although I've been training since January, I need more competitions to feel more comfortable. Its different competing and training. But my body is ok.”
The capital city of the South American country is welcoming nearly 140 men and women’s teams from 35 countries. This event is the 258th men’s and 218th women’s competition in the history of the FIVB Swatch World Tour.
With the Brazilian capital celebrating its 51st anniversary this week, crowds exceeding 1-million are expected to attend various holiday activities on the Esplanada dos Ministérios in Brasília, especially during the Thursday’s anniversary celebrations which feature the FIVB Swatch World Tour event.
The Main Draw rounds continue Wednesday for the women and start for the men in the US$380,000 event as teams march into the final days seeking the US$30,000 first-place prize for each gender. The medal matches will be held Friday for women and Saturday. Silver medal teams will split US$21,000 and the bronze US$15,000.
Fourth is no good enough