|SALVADOR, BRAZIL, March 19, 2004 - After their first set against Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann here Friday morning, it appeared that the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour's top team was in trouble in their first attempt to qualify for Saturday's semi-finals in the US$180,000 Brazilian Open.
But, top-seeded Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos recovered from a 21-11 setback to capture the next two sets 21-11 and 15-11 to advance to "final four" with a 54-minute win over the fourth-seeded Germans. Despite the defeat, the Germans will have another chance to fifth SWATCH-FIVB World Tour semi-final.
"They were more aggressive in the second set and our service game was not very good, said Reckermann after the match. "We played well early, but their aggressive play forced us to make some error. The Brazilians never quit and they are always there at the finish."
The win was the second of the day for Emanuel and Ricardo over a team from Germany as the Brazilians downed ninth-seeded Christoph Dieckmann and Andreas Scheuerpflug 21-18 and 21-18 in 43 minutes. The other German team of Dieckmann/Reckermann needed 74 minutes to out-last 12th-seeded Todd Rogers and Sean Scott of the United States 28-30, 21-16 and 16-14.
"Since our first match today was against the other German team, I've been noticing that players have been studying the way we play," said Emanuel. "Therefore, we had to change our game plan during the match and that definitely makes things tougher. We've been able to stay mentally strong and could turn things around after dropping the first set badly."
Stefan Kobel and Patrick Heuscher joined Emanuel and Ricardo as the first two semi-finalists as the sixth-seeded team from Switzerland scored a 21-13 and 21-18 win in 46 minutes over 18th-seeded Francisco Alvarez and Juan Rosell of Cuba.
"Our service game was clicking against the Cubans," said Heuscher after the match. "By being able to score on our serve, we were able to stay ahead in the match and keep the pressure on them. Despite playing for more than an hour in our first match this morning, I felt good and I think I was jumping better in the second game."
The Swiss pair opened play Friday with a 19-21, 22-20 and 23-21 win over 14th-seeded Tande Ramos and Franco Neto of Brazil in 71 minutes. Alvarez and Rosell, who still have one more chance to reach Saturday's semis, upset seventh-seeded Fred Souza and Pedro Brazão of Brazil 21-21, 21-15 and 15-12 in their first match Friday.
With the men playing an international event in Salvador for the first-time, the Brazilian Open Main Draw continues with six more matches Friday. The final four teams advance to Saturday's semi-final matches. The medal matches will be played Sunday where the Gold Medal team wins the $27,000 first-place prize.