Men's competition, Klagenfurt
From 28 July To 1 August 2004

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DeGruijter & Ronnes Lead Field into Saturday's Men's A1 Grand Slam Action
KLAGENFURT, AUSTRIA, July 30, 2004 - If you mentioned that Jochem DeGruijter and Gijs Ronnes from the Netherlands were leading the world's best men's players after competition ended here Friday in the US$540,000 A1 Grand Slam, Beach Volleyball fans will be asking if there was a misprint.

Seeded 32nd and last in the Main Draw, the play of Netherlands National Champions DeGruijter and Ronnes highlighted the action from the first two days of competition in the 13th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour men's event this season.

After defeating the first, 17th and ninth-seeded Main Draw teams the past two days, DeGruijter and Ronnes now face their fifth-straight team scheduled to compete next month in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games when they challenge fourth-seeded Benjamin Insfran and Marcio Araujo of Brazil Saturday with the winner advancing to Sunday's "final four."

Also playing for a spot in Sunday's second semi-final match are 11th-seeded Christoph Dieckmann and Andreas Scheuerpflug of Germany and 23rd-seeded Julien Prosser and Mark Williams of Australia. Like Benjamin and Marcio Araujo, the Germans and Aussies are set to compete in Athens.

Eight other teams are still in contention for the $40,500 first-place prize where they face possible elimination in their first matches Saturday. Only second-seeded Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil remain from the top three-seeded teams as Switzerland's Patrick Heuscher/Stefan Kobel (No. 1 seeds) and the Laciga brothers (Martin and Paul, No. 2) were ousted Friday.

Thirteenth-seeded Todd Rogers and Sean Scott of the United States, who ousted the Lacigas 21-19, 23-25 and 15-12, challenge Emanuel and Ricardo while 17th-seeded Dain Blanton and Jeff Nygaard play 19th-seeded Francisco Alvarez and Juan Rossell of Cuba.

Emanuel and Ricardo were upset 21-18, 19-21 and 16-14 by Prosser and Williams to drop into the contender's bracket along with the Cubans, who were defeated by Christoph Dieckmann and Scheuerpflug. Blanton and Nygaard scored a 21-18, 18-21 and 15-13 win over 26th-seeded Dax Holdren and Stein Metzger in a match between United States Olympians for Athens.

Seventh-seeded Franco Neto and Tande Ramos of Brazil, who eliminated Heuscher and Kobel 21-18, 24-26 and 15-12, play fourth-seeded Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann of Germany while sixth-seeded Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde of Argentina face ninth-seeded Peter Gartmayer and Robert Nowotny of Austria.

Markus Dieckmann and Reckermann, who won the season's first SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event in Berlin last month, fell into the contender's bracket after losing 21-19 and 21-17 to Benjamin and Marcio Araujo, the France Grand Slam winner two weeks ago.

Gartmayer and Nowotny dropped into the elimination bracket after becoming DeGruijter and Ronnes' fifth-straight upset victim Friday 28-30, 21-19 and 17-15. Baracetti and Conde won two elimination matches Friday, including an 18-21, 21-13 and 15-9 win over 30th-seeded Bjorn Berg and Simon Dahl of Sweden.

The eighth men's A1 Grand Slam continues Saturday with Sunday's gold medal match concluding the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour's pre-Olympic schedule. The women's "final four" matches will be played Saturday where the winning team shares the $40,500 first-place prize.