Men's South Africa Open 2004
Cape Town, March 23-28

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South Africa Open Nets All-Brazilian Gold Medal Match
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, March 27, 2004 - The finals of the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season opener in Salvador last week figured to be an All-Brazilian affair, but that was not to be since teams from Argentina, Germany and Switzerland spoiled the plans.

However, the Brazilians gained their revenge this week on the Camps Bay centre court here Saturday with the best from that South American country competing for the gold medal Sunday in the finals of the US$180,000 South Africa Open.

Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos led the Brazilians by extending their SWATCH-FIVB World Tour winning streak to 25-straight with five match wins this week. In an All-Brazil semi-final, Emanuel and Ricardo bettered third-seeded Benjamin Insfran and Harley Marques 23-21, 20-22 and 15-13 in 73 minutes to earn the first gold medal berth Saturday.

The top-seeded Emanuel and Ricardo, who will be seeking their fourth-straight SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event title, faced 12th-seeded Tande Ramos and Franco Neto in the All-Brazil title. Tande and Franco had two win two matches Saturday, including a 21-17 and 21-16 win over Robert Nowotny and Peter Gartmayer of Austria in the second semi-finals.

"I love matches like we played today" said Emanuel after the semi-final test while approaching hordes of autograph seekers. "Competition against good teams like Benjamin and Harley make you better as a team."

When asked about being the top team with a streak of match wins and tournament titles, Emanuel "loved the pressure of each match. We know everyone is aiming for us. It is also important for us to use each match to work on refining our game. If we make a mistake, we must correct it immediately."

Emanuel and Ricardo won last week's season opener in Salvador where they defeated Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel of Switzerland in the finals. The 2003 FIVB World Champions, Emanuel and Ricardo have now won 73 of the 86 FIVB matches they have played together with a perfect 6-0 mark in gold medal finals since forming their partnership at the end of the 2002 season.

Benjamin, who is playing without his regular partner Marcio Araujo, and Harley face the Austrians in the bronze medal match at 1:15 p.m. Sunday. Marcio Araujo, who is sidelined due to an appendix operation, is expected to return to competition for the next SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event May 19-23 in Lianyungang, China.