Lucerne, Switzerland, May 12, 2018 – Top-seeded Australians Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho will face third-seeded Fan Wang and Xinyi Xia of China in the women’s final of the Lucerne three-star event on the 2018 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour on Sunday. The four men’s semifinalists also emerged on Saturday with Serbia taking on Indonesia and Switzerland meeting USA.
For Clancy and Artacho, Saturday’s competition day started with a tough encounter with Brazil’s Maria Clara Salgado Solberg and Elize Secomandi Maia in the round of 16. The Australians recovered from dropping the first set and managed to turn things around to a 2-1 (20-22, 21-13, 15-8) victory.
In their quarterfinal match with Russia’s Olga Motrich and Yulia Abalakina, Clancy and Artacho had to work hard to win the first set, but in the second they cruised on to a 2-0 (24-22, 21-10) shutout. The story of their semifinal against USA’s Emily Stockman and Kelley Larsen was similar – a difficult first set and domination in the second towards the final 2-0 (22-20, 21-14).
“We are so excited!” exclaimed Mariafe Artacho del Solar upon winning in the semis. “It is really exciting to have won all three games. It’s been a long day, but we are so happy right now!”
“The US team came out strong and we had to really play our best. I am really proud of our performance. We are kind of friends with the Chinese girls, so I’d be happy if they do well,” Taliqua Clancy added before it was known who their opponents in the final would be.
The Chinese girls did do well... Fan Wang and Xinyi Xia went past young Latvians Anastasija Kravcenoka and Tina Graudina 2-0 (21-18, 21-14) in the round of 16. In the quarterfinals, the Chinese duo managed another shutout – 2-0 (21-15, 21-15) against Brazil’s Josemari Alves and Liliane Maestrini.
They finally lost a set in their semifinal encounter with fourth-seeded Joy Stubbe and Marleen Ramond-van Iersel of the Netherlands, but fought their way back to a 2-1 (16-21, 21-18, 15-11) victory and a place in the final.
“Our opponents are very respectable. They are strong, they play fast and their defence is very good,” Fan Wang said about the Dutch pair. “Good luck to us! We want the winning to continue, because our next match is the final.”
The much anticipated all-Swiss clash in the men’s round of 16 was extended to three sets. 10th-seeded Adrian Heidrich and Mirco Gerson were more concentrated in the tie-breaker and batted their way to a 2-1 (21-15, 16-21, 15-10) victory. The quarterfinal was not any easier for Heidrich and Gerson, but with the great support of the home fans on the stands, they hammered out an amazing comeback, which started with denying the opponents’ match point in the second set and finished with a 2-1 (18-21, 26-24, 15-9) win.
“The home crowd was amazing for us!” exclaimed Mirco Gerson upon qualifying for the semis. “We were very tired, but we tried our best and, yes, we are going to the semis. It’s unbelievable – this is our home tournament! We tried to believe that we could win. We believed during the whole tournament that we could do it, and that’s what helped us now as well. Yes, the hardest is yet to come. I already had some cramps during the quarterfinal, so we need regeneration – one hour physio and on to the semis...”
In their semifinal on Sunday at 11:05 local time, the Swiss team will lock horns with wild cards John Mayer and Trevor Crabb from USA, who managed two straight-set wins on Saturday – 2-0 (21-19, 21-10) over France’s Maxime Thiercy and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat and 2-0 (22-20, 21-17) over Italy’s Enrico Rossi and Marco Caminati.
An hour earlier, Serbia’s Lazar Kolaric and Stefan Basta will take on Indonesia’s Ade Candra Rachmawan and Mohammad Ashfiya in an unexpected clash for a berth in the final.
This is the first top four finish for the Serbian pair on the World Tour, Kolaric and Basta are the only team which came into the main draw from the qualifications and made it all the way to the semifinals. On Saturday, they persevered through two three-set games against US opponents to continue their Cinderella story in Lucerne. First they mastered a 2-1 (17-21, 21-18, 15-13) comeback win over William Kolinske and Miles Evans, and then they took a 2-1 (15-21, 22-20, 15-11) victory over Casey Patterson and Stafford Slick.
Candra and Ashfiya also played three sets in the round of 16, achieving a 2-1 (21-18, 19-21, 15-12) victory over fourth-seeded Belgians Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle, but in the quarterfinals they were quick to deal with Germany’s Philipp Arne Bergmann and Yannick Harms on the way to a 29-minute 2-0 (21-17, 21-10) win.