Women's competition, Osaka
From 2 June To 6 June 2004

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Brazil & Australia Osaka Finalists
OSAKA, JAPAN, June 6, 2004 - For the first-time since 2001, it will be Brazil versus Australia in a women's SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal after the top two-seeded teams in the 11th-annual Japan Open won semi-final matches here Sunday on Tannowa Beach.

Top-seeded Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar of Brazil, who will be competing in their seventh-straight Tannowa Beach gold medal match, earned the first spot in the finals by defeating third-seeded Nicole Schnyder-Benoit and Simone Kuhn of Switzerland 21-13 and 21-11 in 34 minutes.

Second-seeded Natalie Cook and Nicole Sanderson of Australia erased the memory of last week's 17th-place finish in China to advance to their first SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal match together by outlasting 21st-seeded Vasso Karadassiou and Efi Sfyri of Greece 14-21, 22-20 and 15-9 in 55 minutes.

The Brazilians and Cook were involved the last time the two countries played for a women's FIVB gold medal in April 2001 at Macau in a rematch of the two nations that competed in the beach volleyball finals at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Cook and Kerri Pottharst, the gold medallists from Sydney, defeated Shelda and Adriana again for the Macau title.

"We were a little shaky at start with against the Greeks and they just over-whelmed us in the first set," said Sanderson after the match. "We were able to steady ourselves in the second set with Natalie making a great play to tie the match. We played mistake free in the final set to win."

Adriana and Shelda have won all four of the previous meetings between the two teams, including a win here last year in the semi-finals (21-16, 16-21 and 15-12 in 65 minutes). After placing third in their Osaka debut in 1997, Shelda and Adriana won five-straight Tannowa events from 1998-2002 before having their gold medal streak snapped last August by being defeated in the finals by Brazilian rivals Ana Paula Connelly and Sandra Pires.

Cook won the 1996 Osaka event with Pottharst in the Australians first event after capturing the bronze medal at the Atlanta Olympic Games. Sunday's winners will share the $27,000 first-place prize in the $180,000 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event. The silver medallists share $18,000.