|Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 26, 2004 - It was all about the European men's Beach Volleyball teams here Sunday as Germany's Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann captured their second SWATCH-FIVB World Tour title by winning the $360,000 Banco do Brasil Open.
Seeded fifth in the 32-team men's Main Draw, Dieckmann and Reckermann won all six of their matches on Copacabana Beach this week after posing a 21-18, 19-21 and 15-9 win over third-seeded and Athens Olympic bronze medallists Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel of Switzerland.
With the victory in 66 minutes, Dieckmann and Reckermann shared the $27,000 first-place prize in posting their best SWATCH-FIVB World Tour finish since capturing an international gold medal at the end of June in Berlin where they defeated another Swiss team (Martin and Paul Laciga) for the title. Heuscher and Kobel split $18,000 for the silver medal finish.
"What a way to end the season," said Reckermann, whose one-handed block ended the match that featured an All-European final for only the fifth-time in 162 men's SWATCH-FIVB World Tour "open" events. "This is a great way to end the season, especially after our disappointing finish in Athens. This gives us a lot of confidence going into next season."
Win four wins in six matches against Heuscher and Kobel since the start of the 2002 season, Dieckmann and Reckermann's Copacabana weekend also saw them upset Athens Olympic champions Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos in the semi-finals. Saturday's win was also the first-time the Germans had ever defeated Emanuel and Ricardo in seven FIVB matches.
"As I told you Friday, we would be ready to play this weekend," said Dieckmann, who saw his team advance to a Brazilian "final four" for the second-time this season. After the Germans advanced to the Salvador semi-finals in March, Dieckmann had to forfeit the two "final four" matches due to an abdominal strain.
Combined with a bronze medal win by Switzerland's Sascha Heyer and Markus Egger's 17-21, 23-21 and 17-15 win in 65 minutes over Emanuel and Ricardo, the Copacabana podium finish for three European tandems marked a first for the continent's men or women Beach Volleyball teams in an "open" SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event since the start of the international competition in 1987.
"I think that is great," added Dieckmann, who teamed with Reckermann to win the European title in early June. "I know we have worked hard to improve Beach Volleyball in our country and the other nations have done a lot in developing the sport." Reckermann also won the SWATCH "fastest" serve award (97.2 km/h) for the event.
Heyer and Egger's win also denied the Brazilians with their first ever non-podium finish for either men or women in a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour in Brazil. The Banco do Brasil Open was the 26th men's international event while the women's completed their 21st Brazilian FIVB event here Saturday where Ana Paula Connelly and Sandra Pires captured the gold medal match.