Palembang, Indonesia, April 22, 2016 – The current and three-time Asian winners Isaac Kapa/Christopher McHugh and the world U23 champions Mariafe Artacho Del Solar/Nicole Laird keep the Australian flag flying high when both pairings advanced to the respective men’s and women’s semi-finals in the 5th South Sumatra Governor Cup AVC Beach Tour Palembang Open on Saturday
Aussies Kapa/McHugh, who clinched the Pak Bara Open in Satun, Thailand on April 11, will take on New Zealand’s Ben O’Dea/Tom Hartles in the men’s semi-final event, while Artacho Del Solar/Laird and Phoebe Bell/Becchara Palmer set up an all-Australians battle in the women’s semi-final clash.
Kapa/Chris struggled hard in the quarter-finals against Gilang Ramadhan/Fahriansyah Fahraiansyah when the Aussies went down in the hard-fought first set 20-22 to the host spikers to take the remaining two sets 21-12 15-12 in gruelling 43 minutes. Kiwis Ben O’Dea/Tom Hartles faced an easier task to stun the Incheon Asian Games winners Alexey Sidorenko/Alexandre Dyachenko from Kazakhstan in straight sets 21-17 21-18.
Fortunately, Dmitriy Kuleshov/Alexey Yakovlev saved the pride for Kazakhstan as they advanced to the semi-finals following a scintillating 23-21 21-19 win over Australians Cole Durant/Bo Soderberg, who took silver medal at the last month’s Asian Championships in Sydney.
Qataris Julio Cesar Do Nascimento Junior/Ahmed Tuan Janko smashed Indonesian dreams of booking a semi-final berth in the four-day tournament after beating local hopefuls Ade Candra Rachmawan/Muhamad Asfiya in a close battle 21-17 16-21 15-11.
Meanwhile, in the women’s event, Mariafe Artacho Del Solar/Nicole Laird and Phoebe Bell/Becchara Palmer set up an all-Australians battle in the first semi-final clash. The other encounter sees Thailand’s Varapatsorn Radarong/Tanarattha Udomchavee up against Kazakhstan’s Tatyana Mashkova/Irina Tsimbalova in the rematch of the 2014 Asian Beach Games final showdown in Phuket, Thailand.
In the knock-out quarter-finals on Friday, Thailand’s Varapatsorn/Tanarattha, silver medallists at both the 2014 Asian Beach Games at home and the Asian Games in Incheon, Korea the same year, sank the Indonesian hearts after pulling off a dramatic 21-17 14-21 15-8 win over Dhita Juliana/Putu Dini Jasita Utami, while Tatyana Mashkova/Irina Tsimbalova, gold medallists at the 2014 Asian Beach Games, smashed Thai dreams of setting up an all-Thais semi-final clash to brush off Rumpaipruet Numwong/Khanittha Hongpak in comfortable straight sets 21-12 21-11.
Artacho Del Solar/Laird, the last year’s world U23 champions who early this month swept both titles at stake in Thailand comprising the Pak Bara Open in Satun and the Samila Open in Songkhla, showed no mercy to Ng Tin Lai/Wong Yuen Mei to eliminate the Hong Kong’s pairing in straight sets 21-8 21-12 in just 29 minutes, while team-mates Bell/Palmer powered past Japanese Shinako Tanaka/Fujii Sakurako 21-14 21-18.
The women’s semi-finals will take place on Saturday at 9am local time, while the men’s event will be held one hour later. The third place playoffs and the final showdowns of both categories will take place in the Saturday afternoon, followed by the awards presentation and the closing ceremony.