01.08.2019 - Vienna, Austria
Anytime you play the fourth-placed team of the last World Championships, the reigning European champions and the number seven team in the world in a row you’d expect you were very close to winning a medal in that tournament, right?
For Germans Laura Ludwig and Margareta Kozuch, surviving duels with Switzerland’s Nina Betschart/Tanja Huberli, the Netherlands’ Madelein Meppelinl/Sanne Keizer and Canada’s Heather Bansley/Brandie Wilkerson ‘only’ meant they were qualified to the Round of 16 of the A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch.
“The level is really close and anyone can beat anyone now,” Ludwig stated. “And I think that with Olympic qualification going on there’s just a lot of pressure because everyone is looking for those results and that makes things even closer. It’s a lot of great teams working hard every week and I’m really impressed and interested to see how it plays out.”
After losing to the Swiss in a grueling three-set battle on their debut and bouncing back with a tie-breaker victory against the Dutch, the Rio 2016 Olympic champion and the former indoor star secured arguably the most meaningful victory of their still young partnership by downing the Canadians 21-17, 21-15 in the Round of 24 at the Danube Island.
Guaranteed in the top-ten of the tournament, the Germans have already secured their best finish as a team, but they’re far from done. Their next opponents will be Brazilians Barbara Seixas and Fernanda Berti.
“This is a super important win for us,” Laura added. “We had to play in several qualifications and they were tough because the level was so high. We decided we need to change some things and just went for it and played hard. We really wanted to win and to continue in the tournament and I’m very excited we did it.”
If one Olympic champion survived the Round of 24, the another didn’t as Kerri Walsh Jennings and her partner Brooke Sweat couldn’t get past Dutch Marleen van Iersel and Joy Stubbe, who eliminated the Americans with a 21-15, 20-22, 17-15 win and will now face Brazilians Maria Elisa Antonelli and Carolina Salgado.
Agatha Bednarczuk, who also stood at the podium of the Rio 2016 Olympics with the silver medal, and Duda Lisboa, who celebrated her 21st birthday on Thursday, also advanced with a 21-16, 21-17 victory over Spanish Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez. They will play fellow Brazilians Rebecca Cavalcanti and Ana Patricia Ramos next.
Reigning Vienna Major champions Marketa Slukova and Barbora Hermannova are also through after they posted a 21-19, 21-16 win over Germany’s Julia Sude and Karla Borger at the Red Bull Beach Arena. The Czechs will cross paths with Gstaad Major winners April Ross and Alix Klineman of the United States.
Also survived the Round of 24 China’s Fan Wang/Xinyi Xia, USA’s Kelley Larsen/Emily Stockman, Poland’s Kinga Wojtasik/Katarzyna Kociolek and Austria’s Lena Plesiutschnig/Katharina Schutzenhofer.