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  Roseto degli Abruzzi  2006   Men's Open
07.06.2006 -  11.06.2006


Swiss Successes Earn Easy Living Italian Open Gold
Roseto degli Abruzzi, Italy, June 11, 2006 - A day that featured early morning showers and mid-day lightning ended with a Swiss pair atop of the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour podium as Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel defeated the reigning World and Olympic champions from Brazil here Sunday to capture the US$200,000 Easy Living Italian Open, presented by Abruzzo.

Seeded seventh in the 99-team, 37-country Easy Living Italian Open, Heuscher and Kobel scored back-to-back wins Sunday over Marcio Araujo/Fabio Magalhaes and Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos to share the $32,000 first-place for the Swiss pair’s third SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal.

Heuscher, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player, and Kobel rallied in both their matches against the Brazilians to earn their seventh overall FIVB title. In addition, the Swiss pair had to advance through the contender’s bracket where they played three elimination matches to reach the “final four” while the Brazilians entered the semi-finals with unbeaten 4-0 marks.

“Any time a team defeats two Brazilian teams in one day is a major achievement,” said Kobel after the match played before a standing-room-only centre court crowd of 3,000. “To beat the Olympic and the World champions on the same day is something special. Outside of our bronze medal at the Athens Olympics, this ranks as one of our most satisfying victories. Patrick was amazing today and I just enjoyed being his partner.”

After defeating Marcio Araujo and Fabio 18-21, 21-17 and 15-13 in a 62-minute semi-final match that was delayed for 55 minutes due to lightning, Heuscher and Kobel posted their fifth win in 12 meetings with Emanuel and Ricardo by defeating the Brazilians 14-21, 21-17 and 15-12 in 59 minutes.

One of the Swiss’ seven losses to Emanuel and Ricardo was in the semi-finals at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games as the Brazilians defeated Heuscher and Kobel in three sets. The Swiss have now won their last two matches against Emanuel and Ricardo, including an elimination victory last July at the SWATCH grand slam event in Paris where Heuscher and Kobel captured the gold medal next to the Eiffel Tower.

“We played pretty good this week until the second set in the finals,” said Emanuel, the winningest player on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour with 56 gold medals, more than $1.5-millilon in earnings, a 2003 SWATCH-FIVB World Championship title and Olympic gold with Ricardo. “The Swiss are very competitive and never give up. They made the big plays at the right time and Heuscher’s serving casued us a lot of problems at the end.”

Emanuel and Ricardo, who won their 20th FIVB gold medal last week in Zagreb, Croatia, entered the finals with an 11-match SWATCH winning streak after defeating third-seeded Benjamin Insfran and Harley Marques 21-15 and 21-17 in Sunday’s first semi-final match.

The Swiss success Sunday also snapped Brazil’s streak of seven-straight gold medal finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour featuring four Emanuel/Ricardo titles, two for Marcio Araujo/Fabio crowns and one gold medal for Benjamin/Harley. Heuscher and Kobel also snapped a streak of seven-straight gold medal wins by Brazilian teams over Swiss tandems as the South Americans now hold a 16-4 edge in title matches.

While Brazilians had claimed 116 men’s gold medals in the previous 179 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events, Heuscher and Kobel’s performance Sunday presented the European country’s their ninth SWATCH title. “We now look forward to our next SWATCH event in Switzerland,” said Heuscher. “We won our first open title there two years ago. It is great to return home with our wins today and a gold medal. This has been an amazing weekend for us.”

In the bronze medal match, Benjamin and Harley scored a 25-23 and 21-13 win over SWATCH-FIVB World champions Marcio Araujo and Fabio to share the $16,000 third-place prize. Marcio Araujo and Fabio, who won the SWATCH season opener two weeks ago in China, split $12,000 for fourth-place.

The men’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour continues next week with its third of six-straight events in Europe as the men’s international circuit returns to Portugal for the 12th-straight year in Espinho. The next double gender event is June 20-25 for the season’s first SWATCH grand slam stop in Gstaad, Switzerland.
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