PARIS, FRANCE, June 21, 2008 - While the womenâ€™s Henkel Grand Chelem finale on Champs de Mars centre court has featured the same team each year, the four annual menâ€™s stop within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower will have its fourth different pairing as the Netherlands and the United States won semi-final matches here Saturday afternoon.
Fourth-seeded Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil of the Netherlands scored three-set wins over teams from Austria and the United States earlier Saturday before advancing to the US$600,00 Henkel Grand Chelem gold medal match Sunday with a 21-14 and 21-17 win in 43 minutes over sixth-seeded David Klemperer and Eric Koreng of Germany.
Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers of the United States, the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World champions, advanced to the â€œfinal fourâ€ with wins over Beach Volleyball tandems from Germany and Russia before posting a 21-16 and 23-21 win in 56 minutes over seventh-seeded Harley Marques and Pedro Salgado of Brazil.
With the $43,500 first-place prize at stake, the SWATCH FIVB World Tour finale will be the fourth meeting between the two teams with Dalhausser and Rogers winning twice, including a pool play victory on Champs de Mars courts in 2007. Nummerdor and Schuilâ€™s only win was a week after the Americans captured the world championships last July in Gstaad, Switzerland.
â€œOur side out game was the key today,â€ said the 35-year old Schuil, who competed in three Volleyball Olympics with a gold medal in the Atlanta Summer Games in 1996. â€œWe played three very tough matches today, so we are tired. We look forward to playing in tomorrowâ€™s final against either team.â€
With the Netherlands and the United States competing for a SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal for the first-time, both teams will also be looking for their third international title. Nummerdor and Schuil won their countryâ€™s first FIVB â€œopenâ€ title at the 2007 Bahrain stop followed by a 2008 title in Croatia.
Dalhausser and Rogers captured their first FIVB title by winning the 2006 Austrian Grand Slam in Klagenfurt before winning seven-straight matches at the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships to give the United States its first gold medal at the sportâ€™s second-most prestigious event outside of the Olympic Games.
With a podium finish in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower, both the Americans and Dutch improved their point totals for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Dalhausser and Rogers rank second to reigning Olympic champions Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil with 5,060 total points through Saturday for their best eight finishes on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour since May 2007.
Emanuel and Ricardo, who defeated Dalhausser and Rogers for the gold medal at last weekâ€™s Berlin Grand Slam, have 5,500 points to lead the ranking with Nummerdor and Schuil fourth on the list with 4,510 points as the Dutch have also benefited from a second-place finish last season at the European Championships in Spain.
The third spot on the Olympic qualifying list is currently held by Brazilians Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes with 4,740 points. Starting the season with a 600-point lead over compatriots Harley and Salgado, Marcio and Fabio current lead is 100 points. The lead could shrink to 20 point if Harley and Salgado win the bronze medal match Sunday against Klemperer and Koreng with three qualifying events left in Norway, Russia and France.
The womenâ€™s finale Sunday will feature top-seeded Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States against 11th-seeded compatriots Rachel Wacholder and Tyra Turner. With a fourth Paris podium placement guaranteed, May-Treanor and Walsh will be seeking their third Henkel Grand Chelem gold medal after capturing the titles in 2005 and 2007. The Americans placed second in 2006.