31.07.2019 - Vienna
It was never going to be easy. Two Austrian teams opened their A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch tournament against the best teams in the business. Just the gold and silver medalists from the World Championships. That’s all.
Yet the daunting tasks facing Nadine and Teresa Strauss and Eva Freiberger and Valerie Teufl were met with a determination that nearly – nearly – caused upsets on the first day of the main draw on the Danube Island.
It was Eva and Valerie that were first to cause a stir. Against Canadians Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan, nobody gave the home pair a chance. After the first set, it went to form: the champions of the world taking it 21-14.
But then the second set happened. And slowly the big crowd that had crouched around the perimeter of side court 2 sensed that maybe something was about to happen. And happen it did, Freiberger and Teufl took the game into a tiebreak, winning 21-19.
So with a shock on the cards, the world champions stepped it up a gear. And did so in style. 15-6 the score in the third set. Applause all round for both teams, smiles on the faces of the Austrians. Relief etched all over Mel and Sarah’s.
In the match that immediately followed on the same court, the Strauss twins attempted their mission impossible against Alix Klineman and April Ross. The Americans, three medals in their last three tournaments – silver Hamburg, gold Gstaad, silver Tokyo – dominated the first set, winning 21-16. The second was closer. Much closer. Sideout after sideout, the sisters had the advantage but when it came to crunch time the A-Team ground out the points needed to record victory, 21-19.
Close but no cigar for the Austrians, but plenty of pride and confidence to take into their pool survivor matches later in the afternoon.
Elsewhere on the first morning of the main draw, reigning Vienna Major champions Marketa Sluková and Barbora Hermannová lost their first match in their quest to retain the title, going down to Brandie Wilkerson and Heather Bansley.
And in the match of the morning, Swiss pair Tanja Hüberli and Nina Betschart – fourth in Hamburg and Gstaad – edged a thrilling three-set win over Olympic champion Laura Ludwig and Maggie Kozuch, fighting back from losing the first set.