Men's competition, Stare Jablonki
From 21 July To 25 July 2004

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If you are wondering, Ricardo's Ankle is Okay
STARE JABLONKI, POLAND, July 25, 2004 - The question entering the first semi-final match here Sunday in the US$180,000 Mazury Open, presented by the Hotel Anders, was how was Ricardo Santos" right ankle would stand up after playing seven matches the last two days.

Well, his right ankle is sore, but not bad enough from preventing Ricardo and Emanuel Rego of Brazil from scoring a 21-19, 23-25 and 15-12 win over 21st-seeded Jorre Kjemperud and Vegard Hoidalen of Norway before a jam-packed crowd of more than 3,000 at the Hotel Anders' centre court stadium.

With the 67-minute win, Emanuel and Ricardo will play the winner of the second semi-final match between seventh-seeded Franco Neto and Tande Ramos of Brazil and top-seeded Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel of Switzerland.

"It really inspired me to play today knowing that Ricardo has really gutted it out this weekend," said Emanuel after the Brazilians seventh win in eight matches this week. "He came up huge in the third set with three straight blocks for points on our serve. A lot of players might not be playing with his injury this week, but he is one tough player."

The Norwegians had just come-back from a 5-1 deficit in the third-set to gain ties at 8-8 and 9-9 when Ricardo went to work at the net. After getting a side-out to make it 10-9 Brazil, Hoidalen went after Ricardo three-straight times, but the silver medallists from the Sydney Olympic Games came away with blocks each time.

The win was the third-straight for the Brazilians over Kjemperud and Hoidalen with the previous two wins being in 2003 and 2004 gold medal matches in Espinho, Portugal. Despite the defeat, the Mazury Open was good for the Norwegian. "We have been playing so poorly lately," Hoidalen said, "that this week's finish will really help us entering the Olympics."

Playing in their 22nd international event together, Emanuel and Ricardo have now advanced to their 12th gold medal match since forming their partnership at the end of the 2002 season. The Brazilians have won nine SWATCH-FIVB World Tour titles, including the 2003 FIVB World Championships last October in Rio de Janeiro.

The No. 1-ranked team on the Olympic qualifying list for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, Emanuel and Ricardo will be seeking their fifth gold medal this season after winning earlier in Brazil, Serbia and Montenegro, Portugal and Norway. Franco and Tande upset Emanuel and Ricardo in March's South African final.

Sunday's gold medal winners will share the $27,000 first-place prize in the 12th men's event on the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour. The international circuit ends pre-Olympic play next week with another mixed gender event in Klagenfurt, Austria.