Fuzhou, China, April 23, 2016 – Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich and Nadine Zumkehr enter their first semifinal of the season after a hard fought win over Finland’s Riikka Lehtonen and Taru Lahti 2-1 (13-21, 26-24, 15-13).
Heidrich/Zumkehr had to battle through two long matches to secure their position in the Fuzhou Open semifinal, meeting Germany’s Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler earlier in the day in round two. The Swiss pair kept a cool head to overcome the experienced Germans 2-1 (19-21, 21-17, 15-11).
It was in China that Heidrich/Zumkehr were last on the podium when they took gold at the Xiamen Open last year. This year the Swiss team finished just outside the final four in Xiamen and were hungry for the semifinal entering the match against Lehtonen/Lahti.
Lahti, a useful wall at the net gave the Swiss pair a hard time, but Heidrich/Zumkehr grew in confidence in the third set and earnt their second tie-break win of the day.
“I think both teams knew that it was a big chance to go to the semi here and both teams really wanted it. They started really well, served really good, we had a lot of trouble passing in the first set. I think they did a good job in the beginning and we just didn’t find any solution," said Zumkehr. Joana Heidrich from Switzerland and Taru Lahti from Finland
"But it was really good that we calmed down after the first set, that we managed to get a complete restart of the game and we’re really happy. It’s our first semifinal of the season, it’s a really important one and we’re looking forward to playing tomorrow,” said Zumkehr.
“I think I was a little bit shaky in the game as I didn’t play so well, but I think it was a really great job for our team that we are staying together and fighting every ball,” said Heidrich.
“We know that there are twenty or thirty teams out there that have the possibility to make a semifinal and we know that we are one of them and that we really have to fight and work hard to realise it as there are so many teams on the same level, so we’re really happy we made it through,” said Zumkehr.Second consecutive semifinal for Laboureur/Sude
Heidrich/Zumkehr now face Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude from Germany in their semifinal. The German pair continue on their path to another Fuzhou Open medal after taking silver last year. Stefanie Schwaiger and Barbara Hansel from Austria was the team they needed to beat for a place in the final four and the German team quickly took control of the match.
Both teams were making full use of their serve and it was finally Austria’s downfall as a service error took it to match point and Laboureur/Sude secured the point, 2-0 (21-13, 21-18). Chantal Laboureur from Germany
“I feel very happy because we tried to play very concentrated because we know they have very good serves so this was I think the key to stay focussed and concentrated like in the morning,” said Sude.
“We played them a couple of times last year, we knew about their service and in the first set we could put a lot of pressure on them because of our service. In the second set they had a really good side-out so it was not easy to break them, but in the end we were patient enough and this gave us the game,” said Laboureur.
It is the second semifinal in a row for Laboureur/Sude after they lost in the bronze medal match to Kerri Walsh and April Ross (USA) at the 2016 Xiamen Open.
“We were in a lucky position because last year we were in the final so we can make it again to the semis. Last week we played also in the semis and we took fourth place so this time we want to at least take one step more,” said Laboureur.
Walsh/Ross also make it through to the Fuzhou Open semifinals after defeating fellow Americans Lane Carico and Summer Ross after an impressive run at the Chinese tournament. Walsh/Ross face Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Vergé-Dépré from Switzerland. The Swiss pair took gold at the Xiamen Open the previous week while Walsh/Ross took bronze. Anouk Vergé-Dépré from Switzerland
The medals will be decided on the final day of competition at the Fuzhou Open on April 24. The gold medal teams in each gender at the FIVB Fuzhou Open will each split $11,000, the silver $8,000, the bronze $6,000 and fourth place $4,500.