|GSTAAD, SWITZERLAND, June 20, 2004 - Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel finally solved their German rivals for once on the sand as the Swiss pair captured their first-ever Beach Volleyball "open" title on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour here Sunday before a jammed-packed crowd.
With Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann, the 2004 European champions, not conceding anything during the 54-minute match, Heuscher and Kobel withstood a late charge by the Germans to score a 21-18 and 27-25 win to share the $27,000 first-place prize. Dieckmann and Reckermann left the court by sharing $18,000 for their silver medal finish in the US$360,000 1to1 Energy Open.
The gold medal match marked only the second-time in 154 "open" SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events that two teams from Europe competed for an international title. The win also gave Switzerland their first gold medal since the Laciga brothers (Martin and Paul) accomplished the feat in Spain and Mallorca at the end of the 2002 season.
The last time two teams from Europe played for a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal match was in 1994 in Marseille, France when Norway's Jan Kvalheim and Bjorn defeated J. P. Jodard and Christian Penigaud of France in the finals.
"Unbelievable," said Kobel after the match played before 5,200 cheering fans. "To win here before our home fans and family was tremendous. Give credit to the Germans, they never stopped playing hard. They are the champions of Europe for that reason. But for this day, we are the champions on this tour."
The Swiss pair, which had dropped a 21-16 and 21-18 decision to Dieckmann and Reckerman Saturday, never trailed in the opening. After the Germans tied the set for the sixth-time at 14-14 with two-straight points, Heuscher and Kobel scored four of the next five points to take control.
After Dieckmann and Reckerman scored the first point in the second set, the Swiss built leads of 9-6 and 11-7. The Germans rallied to tie the match at 16 and took their first lead 18-17. Heuscher and Kobel rebounded to take a 20-18 lead before Dieckmann and Reckermann gained ties at 20, 21 and 22.
As Kobel noted, the Germans "never gave up." Dieckmann and Reckerman regained the lead at 23-22 and 24-23, The Swiss came back to score four of the final five points of the match as Heuscher's block gave his team their fourth Beach Volleyball title, but first-ever in an "open" event.
Sunday's title match was also the fourth meeting between the two teams. Dieckmann and Reckermann won both their previous games with the Swiss on sand. The Swiss' win was by forfeit in Brazil as Dieckmann had to withdraw from the March semi-final due to his injury.
In the All-Brazil bronze medal match before Sunday's finale, top-seeded Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos defeated fourth-seeded Benjamin Insfran and Marcio Araujo 21-18 and 21-16 in 41 minutes. Emanuel and Ricardo, who had played in seven-straight SWATCH-FIVB World Tour finals before losing Sunday's first semi-final to the Swiss, shared $14,000 for third. Benjamin and Marcio Araujo split $11,000.
Dieckmann and Reckermann were playing in their second-straight 1to1 Energy Open gold medal match. The Germans dropped the 2003 finale to Benjamin and Marcio Araujo 23-25, 21-13 and 15-10. Heuscher and Kobel placed third here last season.
The 1to1 Energy Open is the first of four-straight mixed gender events on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour. The United States' Misty May and Kerri Walsh won the women's title by defeated Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede in the gold medal match Saturday afternoon.