Berlin, Germany, June 13, 2008 - Men's Beach Volleyball teams from nine countries still remain in the US$600,000 smart Grand Slam competition after the completion of pool play and elimination matches here Friday in the first of six Grand Slam events on the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour calendar.
The United States had three tandems winning their pools to receive first-round "byes" in the 24-team single-elimination bracket where eight matches were played late Friday to determine the lineup for Saturday's first eight of 12 matches in front of the Berlin's main train station at the Washingtonplatz.
Other countries still in contention for the $43,500 first-place prize to be awarded at the conclusion of Sunday's gold medal match are Brazil, China, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Switzerland. Led by second-seeded Julius Brink and Christoph Dieckmann, Germany will also have three teams playing Saturday.
American qualifiers for the smart Grand Slam elimination rounds are top-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (Pool J), sixth-seeded Jake Gibb/Sean Rosenthal (Pool O) and 10th-seeded Matt Fuerbringer/Casey Jennings (Pool Q). All three teams have won SWATCH medals this season while Dalhausser and Rogers are the reigning SWATCH FIVB World champions.
With all three American teams in the top half of the smart Grand Slam bracket, Dalhausser and Rogers open play Saturday against 15th-seeded Martin Laciga and Jan Schnider of Switzland while Fuerbringer and Jennings play 14th-seeded Jonas Reckermann and Mischa Urbatzka of Germany. Gibb and Rosenthal will play 17th-seeded Pablo Herrera and Raul Mesa of Spain in their first match Saturday.
The other match in the upper-half of the smart Grand Slam elimination bracket has seventh-seeded David Klemperer/Eric Koreng of Germany playing 20th-seeded Jorre Kjemperud/Tarjei Skarlund of Norway. While the Norwegians had a first-round "bye" by winning Pool M, Klemperer and Koreng ousted 22nd-seeded Jason Lochhead and Kirk Pitman of New Zealand in three sets to advance to Saturday's play.
In the lower half of the smart Grand Slam bracket, Brink/Dieckmann (Pool K) and third-seeded Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos of Brazil (Pool L) earned "byes" along with a pair of teams from the Netherlands - fifth-seeded Reinder Nummerfor/Richard Schuil (Pool N) and ninth-seeded Bram Ronnes/Emiel Boersma (Pool Q).
Brink and Dieckmann will play 21st-seeded Sascha Heyer and Patrick Heuscher of Switzerland in an opening match Saturday with Emanuel and Ricardo being challenged by Brazilian rivals and eighth-seeded Harley Marques and Pedro Salgado. The Dutch opponents are fourth-seeded Wu and Xu for Nummerdor and Schuil while 18th-seeded Kristjan Kais and Rivo Vesik of Estonia for Ronnes and Boersma.
Two-time Berlin SWATCH winner Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes will not be competing Saturday after the Brazilians were eliminated late Friday afternoon by dropping a 21-18 and 22-20 decision in 53 minutes by Herrera and Mesa. Marcio Araujo and Fabio won the 2005 Berlin event when it was the SWATCH FIVB World Championships followed by a 2007 gold medal win over Klemperer and Koreng.
The women's smart Grand Slam "final four" was set Friday afternoon with two teams from the United States (Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh and Jen Boss/April Ross) competing against tandems from Brazil (Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca) and China (Jia Tian/Jie Wang). With the women's finale Saturday, the men's semi-final and medal matches will be played Sunday.