|BERLIN, GERMANY, June 27, 2004 - For the second-straight SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event, it will be an All-European finale as the fifth-seeded Laciga brothers upset top-seeded Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil here Saturday in the second Smart Grand Slam semi-final.
Played before more than 6,000 Beach Volleyball fans, the semi-final win was the seventh-straight of the competition for Martin and Paul Laciga. The Swiss brothers now play third-seeded Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann of Germany in the gold medal match where the winning team's shared the $43,000 first-place prize in the US$600,000 event.
After losing their first match Thursday to a team from France, the Lacigas advanced through the elimination bracket before earning a 16-21, 21-16 and 15-13 in 61 minutes over Emanuel and Ricardo. The Germans earned their spot in the finals by out-lasting 14th-seeded Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde of Argentina 21-18, 23-25 and 15-12 in 78 minutes.
In the first 153 "open" SWATCH-FIVB events, there was only one All-European final. Now, the international tour will be staging its second-straight gold medal match between teams from Europe as Dieckmann and Reckerman have faced teams from Switzerland both times. Sunday's meeting will also be the fifth match between the two teams since 2002 with the series tied 2-2.
Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel defeated Dieckmann and Reckermann in last week's finale in the Swiss Alps. Prior to that, the last time two teams from Europe played for a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal match was in 1994 in Marseille, France when Norway's Jan Kvalheim and Bjorn defeated J. P. Jodard and Christian Penigaud of France in the finals.
"More luck for us," said Martin Laciga after the match as he was referring to his right arm dig that denied a Brazilian point to tie the match at 14s in the third and deciding set.. "I should buy a lotto ticket. We have had a lot of luck this week, especially in the elimination rounds where we were lucky to defeat Austria in the 25th-place game and Northway in the 13th-place game."
Martin Laciga also noted that missing the European Championships two weeks ago also help. "We are fresher now. Playing on this tour is really tough, and when you have to play all the matches we have this week, you need to be in shape. Also, by getting that forfeit win in Saturday's last match also helped us," said the younger of the two Swiss brothers.
The gold medal appearance is the first for the Swiss brothers in 13 events since placing second last July in France. The Lacigas have not won a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event since capturing back-to-back titles at the end of the 2002 season in Spain and Mallorca.