|STARE JABLONKI, POLAND, July 25, 2004 - The US$180,000 Mazury Open was "special and surprising" for Emanuel Rego here Sunday as he and Ricardo Santos avenged an early season gold medal defeat to capture the Beach Volleyball title an over-flowing of more than 3,000 on the Hotel Anders centre court.
With a 21-18 and 21-16 win in 48 minutes over seventh-seeded Franco Neto and Tande Ramos in the All-Brazil title match, the second-seeded Emanuel and Ricardo avenged an earlier gold medal defeat to their Brazilian rivals in South Africa in March.
Sunday's title was the fifth of the season and 10th overall for the Emanuel and Ricardo partnership that started at the end of the 2002 season. The gold medal was also Emanuel's 46th in his career while Ricardo was winning his 26th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour title.
While Emanuel and Ricardo shared the $27,000 first-place prize, the gold medal did not come easy since the world's top-ranked team had to win seven-straight matches after losing in the second-round of the winner's bracket Friday. Ricardo was also returning to action this week after missing last week's stop in France due to a right ankle injury.
The nine matches were the most Emanuel and Ricardo has played in their 22-event partnership on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour since the end of the 2002 season. The Brazilians played seven matches with one forfeit win last season enroute to winning the FIVB World Championships.
Franco and Tande split $18,000 for second-place while 21st-seeded Jorre Kjemperud and Vegard Hoidalen of Norway shared $14,000 for the bronze medal finish. The Norwegians defeated Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel of Switzerland 19-21, 21-16 and 21-19 in the third place match. The Swiss earned $11,000 for fourth-place.
"This win was a little more special for us since we had to play so many matches," said Emanuel after the match. "After losing Friday, we just concentrated on the next match. Any time you have to come from that far back in the elimination bracket, you have to have a lot of focus."
Emanuel also praised event organizers "for putting on a first-class event. I was really surprised as I did not know what to expect from a first-time event held in a country where we have not played. I remember playing in Austria for the first-time and having the same surprised feeling."
After being upset Friday by Francisco Alvarez and Juan Rossell of Cuba, Emanuel and Ricardo had to win five-straight elimination matches. The pair advanced to the finals with 21-19, 23-25 and 15-12 win in 67 minutes over Kjemperud and Hoidalen, who also won the SWATCH fastest serve award (102.0 kp/h).
Franco and Tande advanced to the finales with a 21-15 and 21-18 win over the top-seeded Heuscher and Kobel in the 38 minutes to set up the 40th-time all-Brazilian gold medal match in 159 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events.
The SWATCH-FIVB World Tour ends pre-Olympic play next week with another mixed gender event in Klagenfurt, Austria.