Fortaleza, Brazil, September 30, 2007 - The 2007 season was not Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos’ most consistent campaign on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, but the Brazilians still finished with their second most productive year in terms of winnings after capturing the US$400,000 the Banco do Brasil Open here Sunday.
With their seventh gold medal in 15 SWATCH starts this season, the top-seeded Emanuel and Ricardo increased their season earnings total to $347,700 by snapping a two-game victory drought against fourth-seeded Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers by scoring a 21-13 and 21-15 win in 39 minutes over the Americans to share the $32,000 first-place prize.
The 2006 SWATCH season was Emanuel and Ricardo’s top earnings season with $355,000 with 14-straight “final four” finishes, but the Brazilians won only five gold medals. Emanuel and Ricardo also won seven FIVB titles during their Olympic gold medal season in 2004 with $326,350 in winnings.
Played before an overflow crowd of 3,000 fans that arrived in the early morning hours Sunday to fill the Praia de Iracema centre court, Emanuel and Ricardo avenged an earlier 26-24 and 21-16 defeat to the Americans in the Banco do Brasil Open’s winner’s bracket quarter-finals Friday afternoon.
Dalhausser and Rogers, who split $22,000 for their second-place Banco do Brasil Open finish, had also defeated the Brazilians in their previous match before this week’s season-ending men’s international Beach Volleyball event by posting a 21-16, 13-21 and 19-17 win in the semi-finals at the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in Switzerland.
The Brazilians now hold a 5-3 edge over Dalhausser and Rogers as Sunday’s meeting was the third gold medal match between the two teams. Emanuel and Ricardo defeated the Americans in 2006 finale in Croatia with the Americans upsetting the Brazilians two months later in the Austrian Grand Slam title match.
“It was good to end the international season with gold medal,” said the 34-year Emanuel, who has now teamed with Ricardo to win 30 SWATCH titles since forming their partnership 70 FIVB events ago at the end of the 2002 season. “The Americans are a very competitive team that blends the blocking and hitting of Dalhausser with the excellent defense of Rogers. That match today could be a preview of things to come.”
Emanuel, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the Banco do Brasil Open, was referring to a possible confrontation with the Americans at next August’s Beijing 2008 Games where he and Ricardo are the top-ranked team on the qualifying list with 5,240 points for their best eight placements this season.
Dalhausser and Rogers are expected to qualify as the top American team after winning the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships two months ago in Gstaad. The Americans need two more SWATCH placements to reach the minimum number of eight FIVB finishes to qualify for Olympic consideration.
In clinching their fifth-straight SWATCH-FIVB World Tour point’s championship three weeks ago in Poland, Emanuel and Ricardo finished the 2007 season with 6,940 for their best 12 finishes this year. For the third-straight, Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes placed second to their Brazilian rivals with 6,340 points as the South American country had four of the top five teams on the 2007 SWATCH circuit.
Ricardo was also honored at Sunday as the 2007 SWATCH most outstanding player. Ricardo also won the award in 2005 with Emanuel collecting the SWATCH most outstanding player trophy in 2007. Emanuel finished second this season with three event MOP awards as compared to Ricardo’s four SWATCH trophies.
Brazil now holds a 22-16 win over the United States in men’s SWATCH gold medal matches as the Americans had won the previous two finals, including a win in last October’s 2006 season finale in Mexico when Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal defeated Emanuel and Ricardo for the Acapulco crown.
In the bronze medal match, third-seeded Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes of Brazil posted a 21-14 and 21-17 win in 46 minutes over 18th-seeded Martin Laciga and Jan Schnider of Switzerland to share the $16,000 third-place prize. For competing in their first SWATCH “final four” together, Laciga and Schnider split $12,000.
The 13th and final double gender event on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar, the Banco do Brasil Open’s women’s final was won by Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States with a 21-16 and 21-14 victory over Brazilians Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca. Thailand will host the final women’s international event this year at the start of November in Phuket.