BEIJING Fatigue could not prevent Russian duo Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova from taking a commanding lead in the women's synchronised swimming duo event after the free routine on Tuesday.
Davydova and Ermakova, undefeated at a major championships since finishing second at the 2001 worlds, followed Monday's commanding technical routine by dominating Tuesday's free routine, which reduced the field to 12 for Wednesday's final.
The Russian duo, three times world champions, earned one perfect 10 for technical merit, with all their other scores rated 9.9 for a free routine total of 99.000 points.
"She (Ermakova) was very tired today. We need to have a rest and be prepared for the competition tomorrow," Davydova said.
"Our training was tough but it's normal for a major event like this. Maybe she felt more tired than me."
Spain's Gemma Mengual and Andrea Fuentes moved a step closer to winning their country's first Olympic synchronised swimming medal, finishing second in the free routine with 98.167 points after taking second place in the technical.
Chinese twins Jiang Wenwen and Jiang Tingting matched the third-best free routine score of 97.000 achieved by Japan's Saho Harada and Emiko Suzuki.
The Japanese duo, who had the higher technical routine score, take an edge into the final when the free routines are swum again, this time with Tuesday's free routine scores dropped.
Davydova and Ermakova led qualifiers with 98.834 points, combining 50 percent of each of the technical and free routines.
Mengual and Fuentes were second (97.918), followed by the pairs from Japan (96.750) and China (96.584).
Russia won both duet and team at the last two Olympics. The team event will be contested on Friday and Saturday.