|BERLIN, GERMANY, June 26, 2004 - Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos became the second men's Beach Volleyball team to qualify for the semi-finals of the US$600,000 Smart Grand Slam after defeating Benjamin Insfran and Marcio Araujo in an All-Brazilian match here Saturday.
The first entry to the Smart Grand Slam "final four" was third-seeded Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann. The Germans advanced to Sunday's semi-finals due to a forfeit by Swizterland's Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel.
For the top-ranked team on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, Saturday's 21-19 and 21-12 win over the fourth-seeded Benjamin and Marcio Araujo in 46 minutes was a "good match against a very good team," Emanuel noted. "We have a lot of incentive this week after placing third last week in Switzerland. We are focused on this event right now."
Emanuel felt the "day off" for the Germans was an advantage for Dieckmann and Reckerman. "It was good to play today, but still any breaks from the competition are valuable at this point in the season. Everyone on the tour is tired from the travel. And don't forget, there is a lot of pressure on everyone with the Olympics looming."
The 2003 FIVB World Champions, Emanuel and Ricardo have not missed a final this season in five starts. After winning the season opener in Brazil, the Brazilians were defeated for the gold medal in South Africa and China. Emanuel and Ricardo rebounded to win the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events in Serbia and Portugal before finishing third in the Swiss Alps last week.
Benjamin and Marcio Araujo will get another chance for a spot in the semi-finals as they'll play the winner of the match between 14th-seeded Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde of Argentina and 11th-seeded Andrew Schacht and Joshua Slack of Australia. The winner of that final elimination match will play Dieckmann and Reckerman.
With Kobel withdrawing due to a leg injury, the match between ninth-seeded Christoph Dieckmann and Andreas Scheuerpflug of Germany and the fifth-seeded Laciga brothers of Switzerland will determine Emanuel and Ricardo's semi-final opponent.
Part of the Olympic Beach Volleyball process, the Smart Grand Slam is the second of four-straight events in Europe before the July 11 deadline to determine the 24 men's teams for the 2004 Athens Games in August. The process concludes with events in Norway and Spain.