Brazilian third seeds Maria Antonelli/Talita Da Rocha Antunes held off world champions and defending event champions Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca 2-1 in an all-Brazilian final to be crowned at the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour Sanya Open presented by Olympic Bay here on Sunday.

With the 21-17, 17-21 and 15-13 victory, their sixth in a row in Sanya, Antonelli/Talita reaped their eighth FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour title together and split the title prize of 30,000 U.S. dollars.

"It’s a good start for us, last season we didn’t start so well," said Talita, who paired with Antonelli to finish runners-up to Xue Chen/Zhang Xi of China in the Brasilia Open last week. "This year is an important year and we start with two finals, one first place, one second. Now you know our staff and our team are doing a good job."

"We are fighting a lot to win. It was very difficult to lose in Brazil because we wanted to win a lot, but now we are very happy here because we like China," said Antonelli. "Me and Talita, we always make a point in China. It’s a difficult travel, but I like the people, everybody is smiling. It’s incredible. The feeling is perfect. I think the very good result I can have is because that I believe in the therapy of China."

"If you fight a lot, if you practice a lot and you can win, that’s the best feeling you can ever have," shed added. "My partner was incredible in support. It’s very hot, everybody knows and my coach made a very good preparation for me and Talita."

Talita predicted that the medal contention at this summer’s London Olympic Games would be more fierce than in Beijing. "The London Games will be harder than Beijing. We have more good teams and everybody wants the gold medal. We have to work hard and be focused all the time," she added.

"The Olympic Games is very important and we are looking forward to it. We will try our best and I hope that it would be a wonderful season, wonderful year," Antonelli said.

Dropping the second set and trailing 6-1 in the third, Antonelli/Talita fought back with a 13-6 run to make it 14-12. Juliana/Larissa, who had lost to Antonelli/Talita on Friday before winning a lower bracket match and the semifinal match against top seeds Xue/Zhang to make the final, withstood one match point, but Talita beat Juliana over the net to seal the match in 56 minutes.

"It’s so hot and it’s not easy to play, maybe they felt relaxed when leading by five points, but we never gave up, we kept trying all the time and we were more focused, that’s the most important thing," said Talita.

With their third victory in a row over Juliana/Larissa connecting the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Antonelli/Talita also improved their head-to-head record against their compatriots to 6-13.

"Our matches are always close, it’s always two or three points games, maybe now we play better towards the end of the game," said Talita.

Juliana/Larissa, who had come in fourth in the season-opening Brasilia Open, settled with the silver medal and the bronze medal went to home duo Xue/Zhang, 21-16 and 21-17 winners over Austrian 20th seeds Sara Montagnolli and Barbara Hansel in the third place match. The bad news for the Beijing Olympic bronze medallists was that Xue received a ligament injury to her right fingers in a clash under the net with Hansel in the first set.

"We are still not sure how serious the injury is, it seems that she has got a torn ligament, we will send her to hospital after the awarding ceremony for further check," said China coach Miao Zhihong.

"I thought I could continue to play, so I tried my best to finish the match," said Xue Chen. "After the clash, it’s difficult for me to do some of the moves, but it also made me calm down."

"It’s just the beginning of the season and I think we are in good shape, better than last year. I hope we can continue like this in the rest of the season," she added.

Montagnolli/Hansel could be satisfied with their fifth top four finish together at FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour.

"We are very happy with our performance here," said Montagnolli. "We had a very hard start, but then we came back and got good rhythm against top teams like China and Brazil. It’s difficult to play against them, because they were almost without mistakes and gave us a lot of pressure. For sure we are very happy with our semifinal and it’s very important for us."

The Austrians are still fight for their ticket to the London Olympic Games.

"We are right now at the edge, we have to fight with other teams for points. So this result is very important and we will try to play well in Shanghai and in Beijing," Montagnolli added.

The 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour will continue in the next two weeks with consecutive US$600,000 double gender Grand Slams in Shanghai and Beijing.
 

 
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