Fortaleza, Brazil, September 27, 2007 - The wind was a “great” equalizer here Thursday morning as six of the top 16 seeded teams in the US$400,000 Banco do Brasil Open were upset in the opening Main Draw round of the season’s final men’s stop on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour.
The biggest break-throughs were posted by the teams of 25th-seeded Jochem De Gruijter/Gijs Ronnes of the Netherlands and 27th-seeded Rodrigo Monteiro/Ricardo Brandao of Brazil, who were playing for the third-straight day after winning a country quota match Tuesday and a qualifying match Wednesday to advance to the 32-team Banco do Brasil Open Main Draw.
With the warm (32c) and breezing weather (30-40 km/h) impacting play, other teams with wins over higher-seeded tandems were 18th-seeded Jan Schnider/Martin Laciga of Switzerland, 20th-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Martins Plavins of Latvia, 23rd-seeded Kirk Pitman/Jason Lochhead of New Zealand and 24th-seeded Fabien Dugrip/Gregory Gagliano of France.
De Gruijter and Ronnes posted the first surprise win with a 21-15 and 24-22 victory over eighth-seeded Julius Brink and Christoph Dieckmann of Germany, who captured last year’s Brazilian FIVB stop in Vitoria by defeating Americans Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal in the finals.
De Gruijter and Ronnes also won their second match by defeating 24th-seeded Fabien Dugrip and Gregory Gagliano of France 21-17 and 21-8 to advance to a Friday match against top-seeded Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil. Despite trailing in the SWATCH series with the Brazilians 5-2, De Gruijter and Ronnes won the last match (23-21, 21-13) seven weeks ago in Kristiansand, Norway.
Dugrip and Gagliano opened play Thursday with a 16-21, 21-17 and 15-10 win over ninth-seeded Renato "Geor" Gomes and Jorge "Gia" Terceiro of Georgia, who remained in the Banco do Brasil Open for Friday’s schedule after ousting Brink and Dieckmann 21-18 and 25-23.
Rodrigo and Brandao improved their Banco do Brasil Open mark to 3-0 in their first SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event together by posting a 21-17 and 21-17 win over sixth-seeded Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil of the Netherlands. The Dutch won their country’s first-ever SWATCH gold medal this past May in Bahrain where Nummerdor and Schuil defeated Brazilians Pedro Cunha and Franco Neto in the finals.
With Brazil winning all five of their first-round matches against international competition Thursday morning, third-seeded Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes survived an upset bid by 30th-seeded Koichi Nishimura and Taichi Morikawa by defeating the Japanese 19-21, 21-10 and 18-16 in the longest match (63 minutes).
With seven Brazilian teams in the men’s competition, Emanuel and Ricardo posted a 21-15 and 21-15 victory over 32nd-seeded compatriots Joao Maciel and Bruno Oscar Schmidt before scoring a 21-18, 16-21 and 15-10 win over 16th-seeded Yannick Salvetti and Guilherm Deulofeu of France. With eight-straight FIVB match wins to improve their 2007 mark to 71-17, Emanuel and Ricardo are looking for their seventh SWATCH gold medal this season.
The last of 13 double gender events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar, the Banco do Brasil Open is the next to last event for the women this season. The women’s Main Draw started Wednesday and concludes Saturday with the medal matches. The women’s final SWATCH event this year is at the start of November in Phuket, Thailand.