Klagenfurt, Austria, August 3, 2006 - Despite the rain, it was a “delightful” day for the host country here Thursday at the 10th annual A1 Grand Slam presented by Nokia as Austrians Sebastian Goettlinger and Alexander Horst presented the Lake Woerthersee centre court crowd an “unexpected” Beach Volleyball gift.
For the second-time this season on the men’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, a 32nd-seeded tandem upset the No. 1-ranked team in an opening match of a tournament as Goettlinger and Horst scored a 21-18 and 21-19 win in 43 minutes over Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes of Brazil.
"We can't believe it already,” said the 23-year Horst, who is playing in his first A1 Grand Slam Main Draw after not qualifying for the “money” rounds the past two seasons with Goettlinger. “We played the best Beach Volleyball we could play. Maybe that is because we didn't have anything to lose. Everybody expected the Brazilians to win. We thought that too.”
Marcio Araujo and Fabio entered the US$580,000 A1 Grand Slam after winning the past three SWATCH-FIVB World Tour stops in Canada, Russia and last Sunday in Paris. Goettlinger and Horst arrived at the Lake Woerthersee centre court Thursday for their fifth FIVB event together as the fourth-ranked team on the Austrian domestic tour.
“It was the best game of our life,” said the 25-year old Goettlinger after the match. “We knew that it would be very difficult. Besides, we are not as big and as physical as the Brazilians. But today, almost everything went well. Now, we really can be proud about our performance. For the last two years, we just sat there in the audience watching the world’s best Beach Volleyball players. Today, those great fans where cheering for us against the world champions. What a difference a year makes.”
Goettlinger and Horst’s next two matches in Pool A don’t get any easier as the Austrians are “cashing” their first international paycheck. Awaiting to play Goettlinger and Horst Friday are 16th-seeded Markus Egger/Martin Laciga of Switzerland and 17th-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers of the United States.
Dalhausser and Rogers, the second-ranked team on the American domestic tour with five event titles this season, scored a 21-16, 18-21 and 15-12 win Thursday over the Swiss. Egger and Laciga were the top-ranked team on the 2005 European Tour and won a SWATCH stop last year in Poland.
Second-seeded Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil, who lost their top-seed for a SWATCH event to Marcio Araujo and Fabio after placing third at last week’s Paris grand slam, won their opening Pool B match Thursday by defeating 31st-seeded Eric Koreng and Kay Matysik of Germany 21-15 and 21-11.
Emanuel and Ricardo, the reigning Olympic champions and the 2004 A1 Grand Slam gold medalists, were also on the losing end of a SWATCH first-round upset of a top-seeded team in an event when the Brazilians were defeated by Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil of the Netherlands last month in Marseille, France.
The fourth of four SWATCH grand slam stops, the men’s A1 Grand Slam will feature 32 pool play matches Friday followed by the first-round of single-elimination play where the winners of the eight pools receive a bye. Saturday’s play will have two rounds of elimination matches to determine the “final four” schedule for Sunday.
The seventh of seven-straight double gender events on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the women completed pool play Thursday to determine the lineup for Friday’s three rounds of elimination play. The women’s semi-finals and medal matches will be played Saturday. The winning teams in each gender share the $42,300 first-place prizes and the A1 Grand Slam gold medals