|BERLIN, GERMANY, June 27, 2004 - After being denied a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal last Sunday in Switzerland, Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann claimed the top spot on the podium "for sure" here Sunday to share the US$43,000 first-place prize in the Smart Grand Slam.
Seeded third in the 32-team Main Draw, Dieckmann and Reckermann rallied from a first set defeat to score a 20-22, 21-19 and 16-14 win in 66 minutes over the fifth-seeded Lacigas (Martin and Paul). The Swiss brothers split $29,500 for their second-place finish after playing two more matches this week as compared to the winner's six results.
"This is special," said Markus Dieckmann after the award's ceremony that also featured bronze medal winners Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde of Argentina, who split $23,000 for third-place. "Winning in Berlin before the German fans and our families makes all the hard work worth it. We have been in gold matches before, and finally today, we stand proud of our accomplishments."
The Lacigas overcome a 12-11 deficit in the first set to lead 14-12. The Germans tied it at 20-20 as the Swiss scored the last two points. Dieckmann and Reckermann led 10-5 in the second set before the Swiss tied the set at 12s, 13s and 14s. Three-straight German points led to a 17-14 lead and control of the second set. The Germans led 3-0, 6-2 and 9-4 in the third-and-deciding set before the Swiss tied it at 12s and 14s.
Competing in their second-straight final after losing in Gstaad last Sunday to Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel, the win before a packed Schlossplatz centre court stadium of 6,000 was the first-ever gold medal finish in an "open" SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event for Dieckmann and Reckermann.
Dieckmann, whose twin brother (Christoph, four minutes younger) placed seventh with Andreas Scheuerpflug in the competition after being eliminated by the Lacigas Saturday, and Reckerman were competing in their 11th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour "final four" in 32 starts together. The 2004 European Champions, the Germans have already placed second this season in Serbia and Montenegro, and Switzerland. As for the SWATCH fastest serve, Reckerman won the watch with a 96.2 k/ph serve during the finals.
Sunday's final also marked the first-time that European teams have competed in back-to-back SWATCH-FIVB World Tour "open" events. In the first 153 "open" SWATCH-FIVB events, there was only one All-European final when Norway's Jan Kvalheim and Bjorn defeated J. P. Jodard and Christian Penigaud of France in a 1994 final in Marseille, France.
In the bronze medal match, Baracetti and Conde defeated top-ranked Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil 21-12, 16-21 and 15-12 in 52 minutes. While not reaching the podium for the first time in seven SWATCH-FIVB World Tour starts this season, the Brazilians split $18,500 for fourth-place.
The $600,000 Smart Grand Slam was the second of five-straight mixed gender events on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour. Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede of Brazil captured the women's gold medal Saturday. The international circuit continues next week in Norway followed by mixed gender events in Mallorca and Marseille.