SHANGHAI, CHINA, May 3, 2007 - Seven of the top eight-seeded women’s teams in the US$400,000 China Shanghai Jinshan Open each won a pair of Beach Volleyball matches as expected here Thursday during the opening rounds of the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event.
The first of 14 double gender events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar, the women’s China Shanghai Jinshan Open continues through Sunday’s medal matches where the final two teams compete for the $32,000 first-place prize. The men’s Main Draw concludes Saturday on Jinshan Beach.
Led by top-seeded Jie Wang/Jia Tian and second-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang, the 2006 China Shanghai Jinshan Open finalists, all four teams from China remain the competition entering Friday’s 22-match schedule along with Beach Volleyball tandems from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Japan, Italy, Latvia, Norway and Russia.
Friday’s opening winner’s bracket matches will feature the two Chinese teams along with three tandems from Brazil, two from Norway and eighth-seeded Rieke Brink-Abeler and Hella Jurich of Germany, who challenge Jie Wang and Jia Tian in the first of four meetings of unbeatens from Thursday’s play.
Undefeated Brazilian teams include third-seeded Leila Barros/Ana Paula Connelly, fourth-seeded Talita Antunes/Renata Ribeiro and the seventh-seeded Salgado sisters (Maria Clara and Carolina), who saw their brother (Pedro) advance to the men’s semi-finals with a pair of wins Thursday with Harley Marques.
Pacing the Norwegian effort was fifth-seeded Nila Ann Hakedal/Ingrid Torlen and sixth-seeded Susanne Glesnes/Kathrine Maaseide. Hakedal and Torlen are bidding for their third-straight SWATCH-FIVB World Tour “final four” appearance after ending the 2006 season with Norway’s first-ever women’s international Beach Volleyball medal in an “open” event in Mexico followed by a fourth-place in Thailand.
Hakedal and Torlen meet Talita and Renata in an opening winner’s bracket match Friday while Leila and Ana Paula play Glesnes and Maaseide. The Salgados challenge Chen Xue and Xi Zhang, who became the youngest men’s or women’s team to win a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event last year when they defeated Jie Wang and Jia Tian in the 2006 China Shanghai Jinshan Open finals.
Sixteen other teams face opening elimination bracket matches Friday morning, including Cristine "Saka" Santanna and Andrezza "Rtvelo" Martins das Chagas of Georgia. With their tandems nickname of “SakaRtvelo” being another way to saying Georgia in Georgian, the 31st-seeded Saka and Rtvelo split a pair of matches Thursday after winning two qualifying Wednesday.
The China Shanghai Jinshan Open, which marks the 10th-straight year that China has hosted the international tour event since 1998, launches the qualifying process for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The fourth annual China Shanghai Jinshan Open is also the first of four Asian stops on the women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour in 2007. Other Asian stops are in Singapore (May 23-27), Seoul (May 30-June 3) and Thailand (Phuket, Oct. 31-Nov. 4).
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS