|SALVADOR, BRAZIL, March 19, 2004 - It was not a direct road to the semi-finals for Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde as the Argentinean won four-straight elimination bracket matches here Friday to advance to the "final four" in the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season opener.
Along with an elimination win Thursday, the 11th-seeded Baracetti and Conde now face top-seeded Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil in the second of two semi-final matches Saturday morning. Sixth-seeded Stefan Kobel and Patrick Heuscher of Switzerland play fourth-seeded Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann of Germany in the first semi-final match.
Baracetti and Conde advanced to the "final four" with a 21-15, 18-21 and 15-11 win in 55 minutes over 18th-seeded Francisco Alvarez and Juan Rosell of Cuba, who played one elimination bracket match compared to the Argentineans' five in the US$180,000 Brazilian Open.
"Wow, I am tired and glad this day is over for me," said Baracetti after his seventh match of the tournament. "The Cubans always play us tough. In the end, I think we prevailed with a better service game and some strong hitting."
Baracetti is looking forward to Saturday's match with Emanuel and Ricardo calling the Brazilians "the best team in the world right now. As you can see, no matches are easy out here. We have to be aggressive tomorrow, so we need to get some rest right now."
Alvarez and Rosell, who were playing the Argentineans for the first time since 2002 on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, had two chances for a "final four" spot. Kobel and Heuscher followed Emanuel and Ricardo into the semi-final with a 21-13 and 21-18 win over the Cubans.
Emanuel and Ricardo's semi-final qualifying match was not as easy as the Brazilians recovered from a 21-11 first set defeat to fourth-seeded Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann of Germany to capture the next two sets 21-11 and 15-11.
In Friday's final match, Dieckmann and Reckermann rebounded from their earlier setback to Emanuel and Ricardo to advance to the "final four" with a 20-22, 21-16 and 15-12 win over Tande Ramos and Franco Neto of Brazil.
"I think our conditioning paid dividends today," said Dieckman. "Our last four matches were three-setters. It's funny that in those four matches, we never won the first set. In this match, we eliminated our first-set mistakes and used our conditioning to win."
With the men playing an international event in Salvador for the first-time, the Brazilian Open Main Draw continues through Sunday on the centre court in front of the Catussaba Resort Hotel where the gold medal team shares the $27,000 first-place prize.