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Beach Volleyball - 20. July 2007.


Brazilians Renata Ribeiro (left) and Talita Antunes reach SWATCH "final four" in Marseille


Marseille, France, July 19, 2007 -

It marked the first-time since the second SWATCH-FIVB World Tour women’s event in Singapore two months ago that the two teams had advanced to an international Beach Volleyball semi-final together after both tandems finished winner’s bracket play with 4-0 records.

Both teams medaled in the first two events with Tian and Wang claming the gold medal in Shanghai followed by Talita and Renata’s upset of the Chinese in the Singapore finale. The Brazilians, who captured the bronze medal in the China SWATCH season opener, have reached only one semi-final (Portugal) in the past seven FIVB events.

“That was a good win for us today,” said Talita after her team’s 23-21, 16-21 and 15-13 win in 52 minutes over second-seeded Chen Xue and Xi Zhang in the seventh meeting between the two teams with the Chinese leading 4-3. “We almost blew it after leading 7-3 in the third set with the Chinese coming back to take an 11-9 lead. Hopefully, we can continue our good play tomorrow.”

Tian and Wang, who have posted a first, four seconds and a third in nine previous SWATCH starts, posted wins over team from France and Greece Thursday to improve their season match mark to 45-12 with five-straight wins starting with last Saturday’s bronze medal victory in Berlin. The Chinese posting a 24-22 and 21-19 semi-final-qualifying win in 49 minutes over 20th-seeded Efthalia Koutroumanidou and Maria Tsiartsiani for the Chinese’s third win in four meetings with the Greeks,

“I am glad we are through by playing the minimum of matches to reach the semi-finals,” said the 26-year Tian, who is seeking her first medal in eight starts on Marseille’s Plages du Prado courts. “It was hot out there today. However, it is refreshing to play in the heat after competing in so many tournaments where the temperatures have been much colder.”

With the Chinese and Greeks waiting, Friday’s women’s action starts with elimination play as the eighth-seeded Lu Wang/Man Zuo of China face 11th-seeded Stephanie Pohl/Okka Rau of Germany while fourth-seeded Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig of Germany play 18th-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Shaylyn Bede of Brazil.

Xue and Zhang will play either the Wang/Zuo or Germans for a semi-final spot opposite of Tian and Wang while Koutroumanidou and Tsiartsiani will be challenged by Agatha/Shaylyn or Goller/Ludwig for a “final four” berth opposite of Talita and Renata.

The seventh of 13 double gender events this season on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the 13th annual World Series 13 featured the men’s opening Main Draw rounds. Women’s competition concludes Saturday with the medal matches followed by the men’s final two matches Sunday as the winning team in each gender will shared the $32,000 first-place prizes.

The World Series 13 is also the 10th qualifying event for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The process continues through July 20, 2008. By July 21, 2008, the FIVB will establish an Olympic Ranking based on the best eight performances of teams in recognized Olympic Qualification tournaments (SWATCH FIVB World Tour events, SWATCH FIVB World Championships and FIVB recognized Continental Championship Finals).

The World Series 13 is also the second of eight-straight SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events in Europe through the middle of September. After next week's $1-million SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in Switzerland, the fifth and final “major” event will be staged in Klagenfurt for the $600,000 Austrian Grand Slam.

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