Elisa Di Francisca advances to the finals in Shanghai

The upscale, ultra-chic Westgate Mall, located in Shanghai’s posh Jing ‘an district, hosted tonight’s first of two grand prix events, featuring the semi-finals and finals of women’s foil. Russia and Italy, in particular, had both dominated the preliminary rounds. This was evident in the semi-finals with Italy’s Di Francisca and Volpi in each, their opponents beating Russia’s Deriglazova and Tunisia’s Boubakri, respectively.

With the finals piste situated in a stunning, multi-story atrium, and with hundreds of shoppers looking on, the fencers compete in a truly grand and elegant setting with an enthusiastic audience. The semi-finals were active and energetic, with Boubakri’s “twitchy” style as well as Volpi’s athleticism keeping the bouts busy and moving fast. However, Deriglazova and Di Francisca, both deeply seasoned fencers with more cautious but precise tactical advantages, held on to make the finals. In the end, world champion Di Francisca used that precision and her experience in winning at the highest level to once again prevail and take the gold—even though gold at the Shanghai Grand Prix comes in the form of a beautiful crystal chalice.

The next day will bring men’s foil to the same venue, after the preliminary rounds of medal-seeking fencers battle to the semi-finals. It remains to be seen if Italy and Russia will dominate with the men as it did today with the women.

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