Salgado sisters revenge Xue/Zhang to reach Shanghai Grand Slam semis

Updated: 2013-05-05 09:14


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SHANGHAI - Brazilian qualifiers Maria Clara Salgado Rufino/Carolina Solberg Salgado took a sweet revenge on defending champions Xue Chen/Zhang Xi of China Saturday afternoon to make the women's top four of the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Shanghai Grand Slam.

The Salgado sisters, who had lost to Xue/Zhang 2-0 (21-19, 21-19) in a pool A match on Friday, upset the Chinese title favorites 2-0 (21-18, 21-18) in the quarterfinals to set up an all-Brazilian clash with Taiana Lima/Talita Da Rocha Antunes in the semifinals scheduled for Sunday morning.

Following a 2-0 (21-18, 22-20) win over the 2011 Shanghai Open champions Marleen Van Iersel/Sanne Keizer of the Netherlands in the morning, the Fuzhou Open champions of Xue/Zhang seemed to be out of energy in their second match of the day that lasted for 41 minutes.

Falling down 21-18 in the first set, Xue/Zhang fought back hard for a 6-4 lead in the second and held it to 15-14 before the Brazilians reaped a pair of blocking points against the 1.89-meter Xue to overtake the lead at 16-15.

The Chinese managed to level it at 17-all, but a couple of mistakes from them and a stuff of Maria against Zhang gave the Brazilian duo an unshakable 20-17 advantage while one more serving mistake of Zhang finally handed the victory to the Salgado sisters.

"I'm really happy, it's our first semifinals in the Grand Slams," said Carolina. "It was a tough week for us, we lost in the qualification in Fuzhou, so we really wanted to play this tournament here. I think we were really focused on all the games."

"I think we played really well today, we were aggressive, we were trying to do our best on every point and they are a really amazing team which is motivating. It's always really nice to play against them," added Carolina, who had missed the last season due to her pregnancy. "It was a good day. I wanted to be back in the Tour so much. My baby was born in August and one month later I was practicing a lot already. It was hard to stay out, but having my baby was the best thing in my life. So I think I'm stronger."

Meanwhile, Taiana Lima/Talita Da Rocha Antunes clean swept Barbara Seixas/Liliane Maestrini 2-0 (21-12, 21-12) in an all-Brazilian quarterfinal to join Salgado sisters in the top four and the other semifinal berths were taken by Madelein Meppelink/Sophie van Gestel of the Netherlands and Austria's Schwaiger sisters of Stefanie and Doris.

Meppelink/Gestel, the fourth finishers from the season-opening Fuzhou Open, outlasted Maria Antonelli/Agatha Bednarczuk of Brazil 2-1 (23-21, 17-21, 15-11) to reach the medal round for the second week in a row.

Splitting the first two sets with the Brazilians, Meppelink/Gestel jumped to a 6-2 lead in the tiebreaker on back of a nice shot, an ace of Meppelink plus a spiking mistake from Agatha. After the Dutch women enlarged the lead to 12-6, the Brazilians surged back with a 5-1 run to pull within 13-11. Then Meppelink/Gestel called a time-out and came back to run off two points in a row and secure the victory.

"The score came a bit closer and they put some nice service, so we called a time-out, we needed a break and we just talked about what we were going to do and it worked," said Sophie van Gestel.

Gestel/Meppelink now have another chance to fight for their second Grand Slam medal following a silver in Klagenfurt, Poland last year. "Last week in the semifinals we did not play very well, it was only our second semifinal match and we'll try to do better this time," Gestel said. "This year we got a new trainer and we practiced a lot with the team. Everything was fresh after last winter and we wanted to do well on the court. And now it seemed it worked and we're becoming better and better and better."

The $220,000 Shanghai Grand Slam, the first of a FIVB-record 10 Grand Slam events on the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar, will conclude on Sunday with the women's semifinals and finals.

Chinese newcomers upset former Shanghai Open champions