Beach volleyball: China pair put opener nightmare behind them

LONDON Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:31am EDT

China's Zhang Xi (L) returns a shot as her teammate Xue Chen watches during their women's preliminary round beach volleyball match against Switzerland at the London 2012 Olympic Games at Horse Guards Parade July 30, 2012. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

China's Zhang Xi (L) returns a shot as her teammate Xue Chen watches during their women's preliminary round beach volleyball match against Switzerland at the London 2012 Olympic Games at Horse Guards Parade July 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Marcelo del Pozo

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LONDON (Reuters) - China's Beijing bronze medalists Zhang Xi and Xue Chen put a nightmare start to the Olympic women's beach volleyball tournament behind them on Monday with a win against Switzerland's Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr.

"This game was very important to us because we lost the first game and we needed confidence, we needed to find ourselves and we did great," Zhang told reporters.

"Usually the first game is not as horrible," her teammate Xue added.

The Chinese pair, second in the Olympic rankings, defeated their 11th-ranked opponents 2-1 (21-18, 16-21, 15-8), as the sun returned to Horse Guards Parade after Sunday's downpours.

The bulk of the crowd initially got behind the Swiss pairing, who had a convincing win in their opening encounter, and Xue and Zhang made an error-prone start to the first set and quickly fell behind 7-3.

The Chinese pair called a time out and returned much more aggressively. The crowd also warmed to them as they fought their way back into the match.

"They played great blocking defense and took all their chances and used the time out well," Kuhn told reporters.

"On paper they were for sure the favorites, but we could see we got good chances and now we have to continue our work," she said.

Zhang and Xue lost to Russian outsiders Anastasia Vasina and Anna Vozakova on Saturday in the biggest upset so far in the women's tournament.

The Chinese pair face Greeks Vasiliki Arvaniti and Maria Tsiartsiani in their final pool B match on Wednesday.

In the other early game, the Czech pairing of Hana Klapalova and Lenka Hajeckova easily defeated Nioun Chin Elodie Li Yuk Lo and Natacha Rigobert of Mauritius 2-0 (21-10 21-11) in a must-win contest with both teams having their opening pool A matches.

The Mauritius pair are the first athletes from the island nation to compete in an Olympic team event.

"They were a very good team and played very smartly. But we were pleased how we performed. Just to get to the Olympics has been an achievement and I think we can be proud of our performance so far," Li Yuk Lo said. (Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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