Olympics-Beach volleyball-Cheerful Chinese get Russian revenge
LONDON Aug 4 (Reuters) - Chinese women's beach volleyball pair Xue Chen and Zhang Xi powered into the Olympic quarter finals on Saturday with an easy win over a Russian pair that soothed the pain of their shock defeat to another Russian team in their first pool match.
In the men's event, Brazilian world champions Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti had no mercy for Germans Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik, defeating them by 21-16 21-14 with a relentless barrage of spikes and blocks.
Surprise bronze medallists in Beijing in 2008, the Chinese women came to London with high expectations but under-performed on the first day. They have recovered their poise, as Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova learnt to their cost.
"We found our own style and our own tactics. We didn't change the way we play for the Russians, we just played our own way," said Xue after the pair won by two sets to nil, with the emphatic score of 21-12 21-11.
The Russian pair who had beaten the Chinese in the pool phase, Anastasia Vasina and Anna Vozakova, were eliminated late on Friday by Austrian sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger. Russian participation in the women's event is now over.
"They have a good chance to win the Olympic gold medal. They are playing really well," Ukolova said of her victors.
"Now it's a strange feeling because I'm not happy about this game, no, but it was our first Olympic Games, we passed the pool, I'm happy that I was here, it's good experience hopefully for the next Olympics," she said.
Kerri Pottharst of Australia, gold medallist in Sydney in 2000 and a friend of the Chinese pair, cheered them to success on Saturday. Pottharst said their strength was their ability to focus on their own game rather than worry about the opposition.
The Chinese, whose engaging personalities have made them popular on the beach volleyball world tour, said they were enjoying London in a way that had been impossible in Beijing.
"Here is better than Beijing. The people are so warm," said Xue, while Zhang added: "The pressure in Beijing ... So we really enjoy it here." Both chuckled at the memories.
BRAZILIAN MEN DOMINATE
Brazil's Emanuel and Alison came top of their group after winning all three of their pool matches, dropping just one set along the way, and on Saturday they were on imperious form for their first match of the knock-out phase.
Emanuel , 39, is competing in his fifth Olympics. He won gold in Athens in 2004 and bronze in Beijing with his former team mate, Ricardo Santos. Emanuel and Alison teamed up three years ago and have dominated the world tour ever since.
But Ricardo is also competing in London with his own new team mate, Pedro Cunha, and they too have been looking strong. They saw off a strong Spanish challenge late on Friday to book their own slot in the quarter-finals.
The two Brazilian pairs are on opposite sides of the draw, meaning that if they carry on in this vein they could meet in the final, a mouth-watering prospect for Brazilian fans ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Ricardo and Cunha's side of the draw is looking easier after Beijing gold medallists Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser were knocked out by Italians Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai on Friday in the biggest upset of the tournament so far.
Emanuel and Alison are likely to come up against the remaining American pair, Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb, who won a string of trophies in the run-up to the London Games and look like strong contenders.
Saturday is the second and final day of men's and women's round-of-16 matches. The women's quarter finals are scheduled for Sunday and the men's for Monday.
(Editing by Alison Williams)
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