|CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, March 28, 2004 - Tande Ramos and Franco Neto "surprised" the international beach volleyball community here Sunday by upsetting top-seeded Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos in the finals of the US$180,000 South Africa Open in an All-Brazilian finale at Camps Bay before an over-flowing crowd of more than 2,000.
Seeded 12th-seeded in the 32-team Main Draw and playing in only their second SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event together, Tande and Franco scored a 27-25, 14-21 and 15-12 win over Emanuel and Ricardo to snap the top-ranked team's 25-match winning streak.
With the win, Tande and Franco shared the $27,000 first-place prize was Emanuel and Ricardo split $18,000 for the silver medal finish. Entering Sunday's finale, Emanuel and Ricardo had won their previous six gold medal matches without a defeat.
"We played very strong in the first set and were able to side out," said Franco after the one-hour match. "We had difficulty siding out in the second set and even changed sides to confuse them."
The third and deciding set was tied nine times with Tande and Franco never trailing after taking a 2-1 lead. Tied at 8s, 9s, 10, 11s and 12s, the winners took possession on a side out and scored the final two points a hitting error and Franco's block of Emanuel at the net.
"Tande's defense was strong in the third set," Franco said before the podium awards. "Emanuel was siding out well near the end of the match as we concentrated on serving him throughout the set. However, one of his attacks went wide and I figured out his attack on the final play and was able to block him at the end."
Benjamin Insfran and Harley Marques completed their brief two-event partnership earlier Sunday afternoon by capturing the bronze medal to ensure the first men's Brazilian podium sweep at a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour since 2000.
The third-seeded Benjamin and Harley score a 21-11 and 21-15 win in 41 minutes over 26th-seeded Robert Nowotny and Peter Gartmayer of Austria. Benjamin and Harley shared $14,000 for third-place while the Austrians split $11,000. In addition, Harley won the SWATCH fastest service award (99.2 kph).