Baden, Austria. Led by Nina Betschart and Tanja Huberli of Switzerland, the world’s No. 8-ranked team, the top women’s tandems advanced to the elimination bracket with 2-0 pool play match records here Friday at the Baden Open.
Despite being forced to win a third set in their opening match on Friday by 16th-seeded Franziska Friedl and Eva Pfeffer of Austria, the top-seeded Betschart and Huberli earned a bye for the first round in Saturday’s 12-team elimination bracket schedule by defeating eighth-seeded Michaela Kubickova and Michala Kvapilova of the Czech Republic 2-0 (21-15, 21-15) in 38 minutes to win Pool A.
Also winning their groups on Friday were second-seeded Joana Heidrich/Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland (Pool B), third-seeded Barbora Hermannova/Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic (Pool C) and fifth-seeded Karla Borger/Julia Sude of Germany (Pool D).
With the FIVB World Tour rankings frozen since mid-March due to the global pandemic, Hendrick and Verge-Depre entered this week’s play as the 12th-ranked team internationally with Hermannova and Slukova No. 14 and Borger and Sude No. 16.
Hermannova and Slukova faced the toughest opponent in the second-round of pool play Friday as the Czech Republic tandem defeated sixth-seeded Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth of Italy 2-0 (21-17, 21-18) in a 45-minute Pool C match. The Italians, who are the 24th-ranked team in the world, are now 0-2 against Hermannova and Slukova on the FIVB circuit as the two teams met in an October 2015 gold medal match at Antalya, Turkey.
With Friday’s women’s pool winners having a first-round bye for Saturday’s elimination rounds, two teams each from host Austria, Germany and Italy have also advanced to the knockout matches along with pairs from the Czech Republic and Poland.
Menegatti and Orsi Toth, who have captured two FIVB World Tour events together with seven medals and 11 semifinal appearances, will have a chance to redeem themselves as the Italians meet fourth-seeded Dorina Klinger and Lena Plesiutschnig of Austria in an opening elimination match with the winner confronting Betschart and Huberli in the quarterfinals.
Plesiutschnig, who captured the 2019 Baden gold medal with injured Katharina Schutzenhofer, is playing in her first FIVB event with Dorina Klinger. Menegatti and Orsi Toth have a 2-1 match mark against the Swiss, but Betschart and Huberli won the last meeting in a two-set pool play match in July 2019 on home sand in Gstaad.
In the men’s competition, No. 24 ranked Mirco Gerson and Adrian Heidrich defeated a pair of teams from host Austria in Pool B play to earn the second-seeded Swiss pair a spot in the second-round elimination. FIVB World Tour gold medal winners last November in China, Gerson and Heidrich advanced to Saturday play undefeated with a 2-0 (22-20, 21-16) win in 42 minutes over seventh-seeded Laurenz Leitner and Moritz Pristauz-Telsnigg.
Despite dropping a 2-0 (21-16, 21-9) Pool A decision in 30 minutes to ninth-seeded qualifiers Julian Horl and Tobias Winter, two-time defending Baden champions Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst remain in the competition. Horl and Winter defeated their Austrian rivals for the first time in three World Tour matches as top-seeded Doppler and Horst defeated their compatriots in the 2018 Baden Open three-set gold medal match and last August at the Moscow Open.
Capturing the last two pool titles Friday were fifth-seeded Florian Breer/Marco Krattiger of Switzerland (Pool D) and 11th-seeded Jan Pokersnik/Nejc Zemljak of Slovenia (Pool C) as both teams defeated pairs from Austria – fourth-seeded Robin Seidl/Philipp Waller and third-seeded qualifiers Moritz Kindl/Mathias Seiser, respectively.
In addition to the Austrian pairs that lost in each pool finales, two other host country teams remain in the competition along with duos from Italy (12th-seeded Samuele Cottafava/Jakob Windisch) and Switzerland (eighth-seeded qualifiers Yves Haussener/Quentin Metral). Earning the last two Austrian berths in the elimination rounds were sixth-seeded Christoph Dressler/Alexander Huber and 15th-seeded qualifiers Felix Friedl Maximilian/Trummer.