Gstaad, Switzerland, July 12, 2019 - After placing 25th and 17th in their last two appearances on the FIVB World Tour, Natalia Dubovcova and Andrea Strbova of the Slovak Republic were seeking a better result this week at the 20th annual Swatch Major Gstaad.
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And, the Slovakia women's pair was always hoping to erase their memories of their last appearance in the Swiss Alps village when Dubovcova and Strbova placed 25th after qualifying for the 2018 Gstaad main draw with two wins.
After losing their first pool play match Wednesday to 15th-seeded Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado of Brazil, the 18th-seeded Dubovcova and Strbova rebounded with three-straight wins highlighted by a Round of 16 upset victory over sixth-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa of Brazil 2-1 (16-21, 21-19, 15-11) in 50 minutes.
With their first win over Agatha and Duda after losing to the Brazilians in a Round of 16 match at an event in May at Jinjiang, China, Dubovcova and Strbova will play top-seeded Nina Betschart/Tanja Huberli of Switzerland Saturday in the Swatch Major Gstaad quarter-finals for a berth in Sunday's final four.
Prior to playing in June events, Dubovcova and Strbova had posted four-straight top nine finishes at FIVB World Tour events in The Netherlands (fifth), Malaysia (fifth), Brazil (ninth) and China (ninth). June started with a 25th in Poland followed by the 17th last week at the 2019 FIVB World Championships in Hamburg, Germany.
The Slovak Republic's best finish in the Swatch Major Gstaad was a fifth in 2012 when Dubovcova was playing with Dominika Nestarcova. This week’s appearance is Dubovcova and Strbova's 22nd World Tour event together as the pair's best FIVB placement was a 2018 bronze medal in Turkey after defeating Brazilians Josemari Alves/Liliane Maestrini in the Mersin third-place match.
The Swatch Major Gstaad is the 29-year old Dubovcova's 88th World Tour event while the 23-year old Strbova joined the tour in 2017 and is competing in her 22nd FIVB tournament.
While Dubovcova and Strbova await their quarter-final opponent from Brazil or Switzerland, the other three Round of 8 matches are set featuring two more pairs from Brazil, two teams from the United States along with Canadian and Dutch tandems.
Competing in the top-half of the elimination bracket with the Swiss and the Slovakians are the American tandems of third-seeded Alix Klineman/April Ross and seventh-seeded Brooke Sweat/Kerri Walsh Jennings. With the United States guaranteed a spot in Sunday’s semi-finals, Klineman and Ross defeated Sweat and Walsh Jennings at the end of May in the Czech Republic in three sets.
The Brazilian pairs of fifth-seeded Ana Patricia Silva/Rebecca Cavalcanti and 15th-seeded qualifiers Maria Antonelli/Carolina Salgado are positioned in the lower half of the bracket with the Canadians and Dutch.
Ana Patricia and Rebecca challenge second-seeded and defending Gstaad champions Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Canada while Antonelli and Carolina meet ninth-seeded and reigning European champions Sanne Keizer/Madelein Meppelink of The Netherlands in other quarter-final matches.