Olympic champion Ludwig makes successful return

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil May 10, 2017- With the successful return of Laura Ludwig to competition last weekend at a German domestic event, the lineup for next week’s FIVB World Tour stop here at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca will feature both gold medal winning teams from the Beach Volleyball competition at the Rio 2016 Summer Games.

After having right shoulder surgery five months ago, Ludwig rejoined her Olympic gold medal partner Kira Walkenhorst last weekend for a German domestic event as the pair headlines the women’s field for the US$300,000 Rio Open with Rio Summer Games champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil the featured pair in the men’s field.

The May 17-21 FIVB World Tour stop will be a "four-star" event on the 2017 international Beach Volleyball calendar starting with qualification tournaments for both men and women.  The 2017 Rio Open will feature “modified” pool play matches with group action starting May 18 with the elimination finals scheduled for May 20 to set the lineup for May 21’s medal matches where the final two teams in each gender will compete for the $20,000 first-place prizes.

The "star" structure is being instituted with the 2017 FIVB World Tour as the FIVB moves to modernize and streamline its competitions in a "golden period for Beach Volleyball" following the successful competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as the "road" to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games begins.

Ludwig made a successful return to Beach Volleyball competition at the German Smart Tour stop in Münster as she and Walkenhorst posted a 2-1 (27-29, 21-19, 25-23) win in 68 minutes over compatriots Chantel Laboureur and Julia Sude in the finals.

In winning five of six matches in Münster, Ludwig and Walkenhorst were playing their first event together since winning the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals gold medal last September in Toronto, Canada.  With Ludwig less than two months removed from surgery, Walkenhorst returned to FIVB World Tour action in early February where she placed 17th in the 2017 season opening event with Julia Grossner at the Fort Lauderdale Major.

In written accounts from Münster, Ludwig showed signs of slight impairments with her right shoulder and often hit left handed.  "It was a lot of fun to play again since this was my first competition since the operation,” said Ludwig, who had been practicing with Walkenhorst in Tenerife and southern California before last weekend’s event.

Prior to Münster, Ludwig said “the physios and doctors are more than satisfied and they have all done an incredible job.  Over the last two weeks, I could use my right arm again in everyday life and I have been training with the ball.  I still need to be careful, because my shoulder still needs a lot of stability.”

In addition to the German teams in the Münster, two top pairs from The Netherlands competed in the first Smart stop on the 2017 calendar with Rio men’s Olympic bronze medal winners Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen winning the men’s competition while Madelein Meppelink and Sophie van Gestel placed fourth in the women’s tournament after losing 2-0 (21-13, 21-18) in a 36-minute semi-final match.

Brouwer and Meeuwsen posted a 2-0 (21-17, 21-13) in 41 minutes over Philipp Arne Bergman and Yannick Harms in the final.  Meppelink and van Gestel missed a podium spot by losing 2-0 (21-16, 21-14) in 41 minutes to Karla Borger and Margareta Kozuch in the bronze medal match.  A day earlier, Borger and Kozuch defeated Ludwig and Walkenhorst 2-0 (21-17 30-28) in the double-elimination event.
The Münster men's and women's podium

Here are the men’s Rio Open Main Draw entries with eight more teams advancing from the May 17 qualifier.

Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst, Austria
Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt, Brazil
Álvaro Filho/Saymon Barbosa, Brazil
Evandro Gonçalves/Andre Loyola, Brazil
Pedro Solberg/Gustavo Carvalhaes, Brazil
Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk, Canada
Sam Pedlow/Sam Schachter, Canada
Michael Plantinga/Grant O'Gorman, Canada
To be determined, Cuba
Pablo Herrera/Adrián Gavira, Spain
Youssef Krou/to be determined, France
Markus Böckermann/Lars Flüggen, Germany
Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo, Italy
Alex Ranghieri/ to be determined, Italy
Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros, Mexico
Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen, Netherlands
Bartosz Losiak/Piotr Kantor, Poland
Grzegorz Fijalek/Michal Bryl, Poland
Mariusz Prudel/Kacper Kujawiak, Poland
Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Nikita Liamin, Russia
Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Artem Yarzutkin, Russia
Taylor Crabb/Jacob Gibb, United States
Theodore Brunner/Casey Patterson, United States
John Hyden/Ryan Doherty, United States

Here are the women’s Rio Open Main Draw entries with eight more teams advancing from the May 17 qualifier.

Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug, Argentina
Louise Bawden/Taliqua Clancy, Australia
Nadine Strauss/Teresa Strauss, Austria
Larissa França/Talita Antunes, Brazil
Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda Lisboa, Brazil
Barbara Seixas/Fernanda Alves, Brazil
Elize Maia/Taiana Lima, Brazil
Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes, Canada
Brandie Wilkerson/Heather Bansley, Canada
Barbora Hermannová/Marketa Slukova, Czech Republic
Elsa Baquerizo/Angela Lobato, Spain
Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst, Germany
Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude, Germany
Victoria Bieneck/Isabel Schneider, Germany
Marta Menegatti/Rebecca Diane Perry, Italy
Madelein Meppelink/Sophie van Gestel, Netherlands
Evgenia Ukolova/Anastasia Barsuk, Russia
Ekaterina Birlova/Nadezda Makroguzova, Russia
Nina Betschart/Tanja Hüberli, Switzerland
Joana Heidrich/Anouk Vergé-Dépré, Switzerland
Valentyna Davidova/Ievgeniia Shchypkova, Ukraine
Lane Carico/Lauren Fendrick, United States
Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes, United States
Emily Day/Brittany Hochevar, United States


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