(PR from www.fivb.org) November 5, 2010 – Sanne Keizer and Marleen Van Iersel of the Netherlands recorded upsets over two of the three top teams in the US$190,000 Phuket Thailand Open powered by PTT to secure a spot in the semifinals on Friday as the tournament continued in Asia.
Brazilian sisters Carolina and Maria Clara Salgado sent the top-seeded duos from China into the contender’s bracket to claim another semifinal berth. The eight teams still playing hail from seven different countries.
The 11th-seeded Dutch team began their day with a 23-21, 24-22 victory over third-sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger from Austria. Then they knocked out second-seeded Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig of Germany, 21-19, 19-21, 15-8. The Germans won the silver medal in last week’s event in Sanya, China, but the Netherlands now have a 3-1 advantage in the head-to-head series.
“It feels really good,” Van Iersel said of beating the Germans. “We knew we had to give everything in this game, and we did. We took more risks than usual. If you don’t take risks, this team is too good to beat. We got rewarded for taking those risks. It’s still really hot out here so we can save up our energy.”
Keizer and Van Iersel now have a rest until their semifinal match late in the afternoon on Saturday, with their opponent yet to be determined. This marks the duos fifth semifinal as partners, and the third this season for the young team which has a career best of third. Both teams they defeated still remain in contention for the title, but will have to come through the contender’s bracket.
The Salgados, seeded eighth, advanced to the semifinals for the second straight week after finishing fourth in Sanya. The duo upset the hottest team on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour right now, Chen Xue and Xi Zhang of China, 21-16, 14-21, 15-13. The Chinese have been in the title match in the last five tournaments, and had not lost to the Salgados since 2007 before Friday’s match. The Brazilians then sent the 13th-seeds Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez Steiner from Spain to the contender’s bracket with a 21-16, 21-17 victory.
Six other teams remain in the hunt for the last two semifinal berths. Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger of Austria, the third seeds, will play against fourth-seeded Americans Nicole Branagh and Kerri Walsh. The loser will place seventh while the winner will play for a semifinal spot against Baquerizo and Fernandez Steiner, who had their best career finish last year in Phuket. The Austrian sisters, who are enjoying their highest seeding ever on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour, rebounded from a loss to Keizer and Van Iersel to beat Daniela Gioria and Giulia Momoli from Italy, who had earlier eliminated two-time defending Phuket Thailand Open champs Jen Kessy and April Ross of the United States. Branagh and Walsh kept their title hopes alive by winning three contender’s bracket matches on Friday after losing in the second round to the Spanish duo. Branagh won silver medals in Phuket in 2007 and 2008, both times with different partners, while Walsh won the 2007 title. This marks just the third time these two have paired up together, having won an event in 2008 before placing fifth last week.
Another team from the Netherlands, 27th-seeded Roos Van der Hoeven and Jantine van der Vlist, will play against 16th-seeded Marta Menegatti and Valeria Rosso of Italy. The Dutch team advanced from the qualification tournament on Wednesday and have already clinched their career best finish. They were scheduled to play top-seeded Xue and Zhang, but the Chinese forfeited the match due to medical reasons. The Italians knocked off fifth-seeded Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Sluvoka of the Czech Republic, 18-21, 21-16, 15-8 to reach the seventh place match. The winner of that match between the Dutch and Italians will face Germany’s Goller and Ludwig for the last semifinal spot.
Unless Van der Hoeven and van der Vlist advance to the semifinals, the four teams will be from four different countries, a rarity on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour. Since 1992 that has only happened 19 times, yet one of those occurrences was just last week in Sanya, China. This season only three different countries have won a gold medal on the tour, with Brazil being responsible for nine titles, China three and the United States two.
The United States leads all countries having won seven of the 12 medals in Phuket, including placing 1-2 in the last three Karon Beach finales. No other country except China or the U.S. has played in any of the four title matches, and none of the teams that have won a medal in Phuket are still in the competition this year.
The 2010 SWATCH FIVB World Tour calendar concludes on Sunday in Thailand as the 17-site, 14-country international Beach Volleyball circuit with $6.83-million in prize money returned to Phuket for the fifth-straight season for a women’s-only event on Karon Beach.
Updated results and draw are on: