Gstaad, Switzerland, July 25 2007 - With only six seed-break-throughs in the first 48 pool play matches, the men’s 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships powered by 1to1 energy continued here Wednesday with six of the 12 pools have a “clear-cut” leader while six other groups will match unbeaten teams to decide the top finishers Thursday before the weekend’s elimination rounds.
The eighth of 13 double gender events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar, the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships concludes this weekend with the women’s “final four” matches being played Saturday followed by the men’s semi-finals and medal matches Sunday.
With better weather conditions than Tuesday’s opening rounds for men and women, Wednesday’s play featured sunny conditions for the Swiss Alps crowd with near-capacity crowds at each of three venues in the area as 96 teams from 28 countries are competing in the US$1-million “Beach Volleyball Bash”.
Two teams from host Switzerland enter Thursday’s play with 2-0 records to join 16 other tandems with unbeaten marks in the sixth annual SWATCH-FIVB World Championships. Leading the Swiss effort Wednesday were seventh-seeded Sascha Heyer/Patrick Huescher and the Laciga brothers (Martin and Paul).
Heyer and Heuscher, who are competing internationally together for the first-time this season with medal finishes early this season in Shanghai and Zagreb, scored a 22-20 and 21-11 win in 44 minutes over 31st-seeded Conrad Leinemann and Rich VanHuizen of Canada. Heyer and Heuscher face 18th-seeded Florian Gosch and Alexander Horst of Austria for the Pool T title as both teams are unbeaten this week.
“This is a lot better this year as compared to last,” said Heuscher, who placed 13th in last season’s Gstaad grand slam with his Athens 2004 Olympic bronze medal partner Stefan Kobel. “This was a wonderful day with the grandstands packed. The crowd’s energy helped a lot. I look forward to Thursday and a tough match with the Austrians for the pool title.”
The Swiss brothers, who are playing together after a knee injury sidelined Martin Laciga’s regular partner Markus Egger, scored a 21-14 and 21-15 win over 37th-seeded Fabien Dugrip and Gregory Gagliano of France. The Lacigas now challenge 12th-seeded Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde of Argentina for the Pool Y title. The Argentineans won the 2001 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in Klagenfurt, Austria.
Paul Laciga is a two-time finalist at the SWATCH-FIVB World Championships as he and his brother captured the silver medal in the 1999 edition in Marseille. At the 2005 world finals in Berlin, Paul Laciga and Heyer placed second. In both finals, the Swiss lost to Brazilians as Emanuel Rego and Jose Loiola captured the 1999 gold medal with Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes the Berlin winner in 2005.
With Loiola retired from international competition, Emanuel is competing in his third SWATCH-FIVB World Championships with Ricardo Santos. The reigning Olympic champions, Emanuel and Ricardo won the 2003 world title in Rio de Janeiro before placing 17th in Berlin.
The top-seeded Emanuel and Ricardo, who captured the gold medal at last week’s Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, won their second match Wednesday by defeating 25th-seeded Ahren Cadieux and Mark Heese of Canada 21-11 and 21-17. The third-seeded Marcio Araujo and Fabio posted their second win of the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships with a 22-20 and 21-13 victory over 27th-seeded Kentaro Asahi/Katsuhiro Shiratori of Japan.