|SALVADOR, BRAZIL, March 20, 2004 - The reoccurrence of an abdominal strain sidelined Markus Dieckmann of Germany from Saturday's first semi-final match where he and Jonas Reckermann were scheduled to play Stefan Kobel and Patrick Heuscher of Switzerland.
With the forfeit, the sixth-seeded Kobel and Heuscher advance to Sunday's gold medal match where they will play the winner of Saturday's second semi-final where 11th-seeded Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde of Argentina challenge top-seeded Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil in men's the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season opener.
"We are disappointed about not playing," said Heuscher when he learned of Dieckmann's withdrawal. "Markus has had this problem since last season and I guess it flared up again yesterday. Although we are in pretty good shape after spending the last month in Brazil, I guess another day's rest will help us for Sunday's final."
Entering the US$180,000 Brazilian Open as the fourth-ranked team from the 2003 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, Kobel and Heuscher felt their month's training in Brazil has really helped their preparation for the season opener.
"Being in Brazil for a month has really helped us in adjusting to the hot and humid weather," Heuscher added. "We have been training with quality opponents on the Brazilian beaches as we felt that we needed to me sharp to start the season."
Dieckmann said he aggravated his injury during the first of set of this third match Friday when the fourth-seeded Germans qualified for the semi-finals with a 20-22, 21-16 and 15-12 win in 62 minutes over Tande Ramos and Franco Neto of Brazil. All three of Dieckmann and Reckerman's matches were three-setters Friday as they opened with a 74-minute win over Todd Rogers and Sean Scott before losing to Emanuel and Ricardo in 54 minutes.
"I tested it early this morning," said Dieckmann, who joined his partner on the training courts two hours before the scheduled semi-final match with the Swiss. "I just couldn't get things going and I don't what to take a chance to continuing aggravating this injury. I wanted to play, but just did not feel comfortable."
As for playing Sunday's bronze medal match, Dieckmann did not commit saying that "this is an injury that you don't take lightly. The best thing is rest. I'll see how I feel when I awake tomorrow. I am disappointed about not playing as we have been playing well this week."