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Van Iersel/Keizer claim maiden Swatch World Tour title at Shanghai Open
Seventh seeds Marleen Van Iersel and Sanne Keizer from the Netherlands rallied past defending event champions Jennifer Kessy and April Ross of the United States 2-1 to claim their maiden FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour title at the 2011 Shanghai Jinshan Open which concluded here on Sunday.
Van Iersel/Keizer, whose previous best finish at the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour was a bronze at the Osaka Open in 2009, defeated Kessy/Ross 15-21, 26-24 and 15-13 to be crowned champions in Shanghai with six straight wins.
“It’s a great feeling, Shanghai is our town,” said Keizer after winning the worldwide live televised women's gold medal match in front of a full stadium in Jinshan. “We are very excited, we don’t know what to say. This is the first time we ever made it to the final on the World Tour, now we won gold, so that’s our big victory, that’s very exciting.”
Trailing by 14-9 in the tiebreaker, Kessy/April managed to beat off four match points to make it a one-point game, only to find Keizer come up big with a smash to conclude the match in 62 minutes.
“It felt terrible, it made us very nervous,” said Keizer. “We had a gap of four points, that was good for us. We needed to keep the gap to finish the game and we did it just in time. We expected it to be very hard to win this game, but it was possible, and we achieved the possible things.”
“This is the first, I hope many will follow,” added Van Iersel, who split the top prize of $30,000 with Keizer. “That’s the goal for us.”
The victory also improved Van Iersel/Keizer’s head-to-head record against Kessy/Ross to 2-6. Having had to win six contenders’ matches to make the semifinals, where they beat compatriots Brooke Hanson/Lauren Fendrick in 21-17 and 21-15, Kessy/April finished with the silver and split $21,000.
Earlier on Sunday, Austria’s fifth seeds Stefanie Schwaiger/Doris Schwaiger outlasted American qualifiers Hanson/Fendrick 21-19, 21-23 and 15-12 for the bronze medal.
“It was a tough match. We have played them three times now and we lost the first two against them, we knew it would be a difficult match,” said Stefanie Schwaiger. “We could have won the second set because we already had the match point and then we lost, so it was very difficult for us in the third set to win it.”
The Schwaiger sisters were satisfied with their fourth podium finish overall on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour. “We are very satisfied. It’s the third tournament of this season and we are getting better and better, that’s good.”
Hanson/Fendrick also matched their previous best finish, a fourth in the season-opening Brazilia Open.
This tournament is the second of 12 double-gender events on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, which also includes three single-gender events for women, two single-gender events for men and a special 24-team Olympic test event in London August 9-14. The competition of the 2011 season will continue on May 17-22 with the Prague Open for men and Myslowice Open for women before the double-gender Beijing Grand Slam on June 6-11.