2017-08-02 16:28:00 CET
The Germans recovered from a four-point first set deficit to keep their hopes alive
Keep calm and carry on. That was the message from Laura Ludwig to Kira Walkenhorst after the Olympic champions recovered from a slow start to take their place in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships presented by A1 round of 16.
The gold medalists from the Copacabana pair were heavy favorites against the lucky losers Wang Fan and Yue Yuan of China, but quickly found themselves 7-3 down as they struggled to find the rhythm that took them to 69 FIVB World Tour victories in 79 matches last year.
But electing to take an early timeout, the Germans waltzed into the lead with five straight points to a position from which they never looked back, in the end comfortable winners 21-19, 21-14.
In truth the way they came back against the Chinese pair proved the most impressive part of the match, a show of character that couldbode very well as the competition develops in Vienna.
“We had to stay calm and needed to find that rhythm in the early stages,” admitted Ludwig. “We were probably a little bit too tense, we didn’t play like we normally do, so we looked in each others’ eyes, said to calm down and reminded ourselves that we can play good beach volleyball.
“It wasn’t such a bad game, in fact one of the better performances we put in when you take away those early points, but there is still a level that we are confident we can go to.
“It wasn’t as perfect as we have shown we can play, but our block defense was very good and we were able to put the opponents under a lot of pressure.
“It was hot, but we have an amazing medical team so we’re able to recover and get that energy back as quickly as possible, from there we can go to center court and not think about it.”
If anyone knows what it takes on the big stage it’s Ludwig, with this the seventh straight World Championships for the Rio 2016 gold medallist.
But while she has almost every gold medal and individual accolade, a World Championship crown still eludes the 31-year-old – with no better time to add that accolade to their list of achievements.
Their last-32 performance perhaps wasn’t the best they will have ever delivered, but Walkenhorst is confident that will be no bad thing for the immediate future.
“I was really happy to have Laura alongside me,” she said. “I took some time getting into the game and had some problems with the sets, and the ball wasn’t going where I wanted.
“Two years ago we may have lost this match but we have a lot good practice together and that changed the match.
“We’ve played together for a long time and that is really important, we know exactly the right thing to say to each other when one of us needs it, we’re there to help each other.”
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