Men's competition, Espinho
From 2 June To 6 June 2004

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Conde and Baracetti seek perfect formula
Espinho, Portugal, June 4, 2004 - Although not one-hundred percent happy with their respective performances of late, Argentina's Martin Conde and Mariano Baracetti are still challenging for honours at the 2004, Swatch - FIVB World Tour Portugal Open in Espinho.

On Friday, the South Americans lost their opening game of the day by 0-2 (12-21, 18-21) to Norway's Jorre-Andre Kjemperud and Vegard Hoidalen but the duo struck back in their second match to oust Australia's Andrew Schacht and Josh Slack by a 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) scoreline.

"Actually, we are playing badly at the moment," Baracetti noted after the Australia match. "It has been very hard for us to get back to the level at which we used to play but this is the way it is for us at the moment. Every year on the Tour the level gets higher and higher. We got to the top and we discovered it wasn't easy to stay there."

Playing together since 2001, Conde and Baracetti were once considered the world's best team having claimed both the World Championship and World Tour titles in the same season, yet in the recent past things have changed somewhat and the pair haven't been able to lift themselves back to the pinnacle of the sport. "I don't really know what the turning point was for us and why we started playing badly ," Baracetti admitted. "Now, when we are without confidence, each game is a challenge for us. We are just trying to get better and better for the Olympics. My personal ambition is to get back to my best form."

Reflecting on the difficulties he and his playing partner have encountered lately, Martin Conde did his best to explain the situation, "When you are not playing well it's hard to be happy and we just can't seem to find the reason why we are playing the way we are," he said. "I need to feel one hundred percent to play well and when I don't feel that way it is very difficult for me."

"We had a bad loss this morning against Norway and they are a team that hasn't finished very highly in recent competitions," Conde continued. "We got a by today because Maia and Brehna didn't play and then we knew we would have to play Australia which is a very strong team."

With the Olympics just around the corner, the former World Champions need to find inspiration from somewhere in order to challenge for a medal in Athens. "Winning a medal at the Olympics is the dream of everybody here," said Baracetti. "But we have to achieve some great results on the World Tour so we are confident enough that we can perform strongly in Athens."