Gstaad, Switzerland, July 9, 2011—Getting into their groves after country quota playoff matches, qualification tournament, main draw pool play and then two rounds of the single-elimination bracket phase, four rugged men’s beach volleyball teams have survived the challenge Friday to earn spots in Sunday’s semifinals and medal matches at the $600,000 FIVB Swatch 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011.
The world’s top beach volleyball tandems are in Switzerland as the double-gender event marks the 12th consecutive visit by the world tour with Gstaad hosting 10 men’s and 11 previous women’s events. Gstaad is nestled in a magnificent valley in Southwestern Switzerland at 3,440-feet (1,050 meters) above sea-level, the highest altitude a FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour stop is held every year.
Winning the quarterfinals Saturday evening amidst the towering pines, lush green hillside and jagged-edged, snow-capped mountain tops of the Swiss Alps, were: USA’s fourth-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers, Germany’s second-seeded Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann; Poland’s fifth-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel and Brazil’s top-seeded Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego.
The fourth of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the FIVB Swatch 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011, the winning pairs in Gstaad will each gender share the $43,500 first-place prizes. Silver medalists will split $29,500 while bronze medal winners will divide $23,000 and the fourth place finishers will receive $18,400.
On Sunday, with the men’s semifinals starting mid-morning and continuing through the mid-afternoon medal matches, the matchups for the men’s semifinals will have Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel vs. Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel in the first one followed by the other semifinal that will pit USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers vs. Germany’s Brink/Reckermann.
In Saturday’s quarterfinals, USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers defeated China’s 11th-seeded Penggen Wu/Linyin Xu, 21-18, 21-13 in 33 minutes, Germany’s Brink/Reckermann outlasted Netherland’s 17th-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Richard Schuil, Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel beat Brazil’s third-seeded Marcio Araujo/Ricardo Santos, 21-19, 21-17 in 42 minutes, and Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel were pushed to three sets but finally overcame Russia’s 14th-seeded Yaroslav Koshakarev/Kanstanin Semenov, 21-18, 14-21, 15-11 in 47 minutes.
In the head-to-head series between the teams on the FIVB Swatch World Tour, USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers now have an 8-1 career record against China’s Wu/Xu, Germany’s Brink/Reckermann increased their record against Netherland’s Nummerdor/Schuil to 5-1, Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel earned their first win in four attempts against Brazil’s Marcio Araujo/Ricardo and Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel have a 3-0 edge over the Russia’s Koshakarev/Semenov.
The losers of the quarterfinals all finish in fifth place and leave Switzerland with $13,200 in prize money per team.
Previewing the semifinals, USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers have a 7-4 career advantage over Germany’s Brink/Reckermann, although the Brink/Reckermann duo has won the last three times the have faced each other, the first by forfeit and the last two in three sets in the this year’s FIVB Swatch World Championships and last week in Norway at the Stavanger Grand Slam.
Both being fairly new teams Sunday will mark the first FIVB Swatch World Tour match between Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel and Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel. The Brazilians are playing in their 19th world tour event together while the Polish team are competing in their 32nd world tour event together.
USA’S Rogers said after his team’s quarterfinal win over China, “We are very satisfied with this match against the Chinese. Our service was good, we also countered well and I think that generally we had a good performance. The result was clear with a 21-18 in the first set and an even better 21-13 win in the second. If tomorrow we play just as well or better, I will not say that we will win, but…I think that the chances will be there.”
Reaching their 13th final four in 19 events together, Brazil’s Emanuel commented following his team’s challenging three-set win over Russia, saying, “After the first set, Koshkarev began to serve much harder and faster (max. 101 kmh) and we had to get used to that to start with. Because of their strong service, they could build bup event better and we had to change our strategy for the third set. In the tiebreaker set, Alison was just amazing. Especially how he could read the moves of the Russians and got so many great blocks. We played on the center court for the first time today and after having played on the side courts it’s like a new tournament. The atmosphere on center court today was unbelievable. People in Gstaad are interest in beach volleyball and you can feel that on the court.”
With the eight pool winners receiving a bye in the first round of elimination, the winners of Saturday’s first round met the eight pool winners in the round of 16 prior to the Saturday night’s quarterfinals to determine the men’s final four.
In Saturday’s round of 16, the losing teams received ninth place finishes and each split $8,000 in prize money.
In one of the closest matches in the round of 16, Switzerland’s home-country favorites 30th-seeded Martin Laciga/Jonas Weingart nearly upset China’s Xu/Wu, losing in three sets in a 56-minute Gstaad Stadium center court. With a near-capacity crowd once again filling the stadium and cheering vocally their homeland favorites, Laciga/Weingart won the first set 21-18, but lost the final two 19-21 and in a closer-than-the-final-score-indicated tiebreaker set, they lost 15-12. Laciga, 36, in his 17th FIVB pro beach volleyball season, is in his first season playing with Weingart, 25, and in their sixth tournament together the earned a ninth-place finish, a season-high for the new tandem.
In departing a stadium he has played in all 11 years the FIVB Swatch World Tour has visited Gstaad, Martin Laciga reflected, “Gstaad is always a great tournament for me because I know a lot of people and the atmosphere is so awesome. Of course we are very disappointed now. We wanted to do better this week because we practiced very hard and we have made some big advances as a team.”
The talented field included the entire final four finishers from both genders from last year as well as the eight of the last nine women’s gold medalists in Gstaad and the last eight men’s gold medal winners although five are playing with new teammates at the extremely popular event and venue.
In the longest match in the round of 16, lasting 64 minutes, Germany’s Brink/Reckermann came from behind and held off the charge from Brazil’s 20th-seeded Rhooney Ferramenta/Pedro Salgado, eliminated the Brazilians, 21-23, 21-18 and 15-13. All three sets were tied numerous times but the veteran German duo eventually prevailed. Gstaad was their fourth tournament together and third this year as Salgado original partner for the season, Pedro Cunha, is out with an injury. Rhooney/Salgado finished a team-best fifth at the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Championships three weeks ago in Rome.
In the other round of 16 match that lasted three sets, Russia’s Koshkarev/Semenov came from behind to defeat USA’s 25th-seeded Matt Fuerbringer/Nick Lucena, 19-21, 21-18 and 15-12 in 51 minutes.
Last year’s men’s final four finishers in Gstaad were USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (gold), Germany’s David Klemperer/Eric Koreng (silver), Brazil’s Marcio Araujo/Ricardo (Bronze), and Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel (fourth place).
Besides last year’s gold medal winners Dalhausser/Rogers of the United States, who also won this event in 2007 to win their FIVB Swatch World Championship and Germany’s Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann won this event in 2009. The other returning previous champions, representing five years are playing with different partners this year. Brazil’s Marcio Araujo won here in 2003 with Benjamin Insfran, Brazil’s Emanuel Rego won in 2005 and 2006 with Ricardo Santos, Switzerland’s Patrick Heuscher won here in 2004 with Stefan Kobel, and Brazil’s Harley Marques won here in 2008 with Pedro Salgado. Dalhausser/Rogers, Brink/Reckermann and Emanuel are the former champions from that group who made it to this year’s final four.
The 2011 calendar features 15 women's and 14 men's events, including 12 double-gender tournaments, within all five FIVB confederations plus one special 24-team single-gender women’s test event held August 9-14 at London’s Horse Guards Parade, the venue for beach volleyball at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour is offering $7.64-million in prize money. Twelve of the tournaments are combined men's and women's events, including the World Championships and all six Grand Slam stops.
After the FIVB Swatch 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour continues with another Grand Slam double-gender event July 11-16 in Moscow (Moscow Grand Slam). The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000.
The FIVB Swatch 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011, the 225th women’s event and 264th men’s event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour (open, grand slam, Olympic and Goodwill). The first men’s FIVB Swatch World Tour event was played February 17-22, 1987 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the first women’s event was played August 14-16, 1992 at Almeria, Spain.
For more information on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour or the event, please visit www.fivb.org. For information on the FIVB Swatch 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011, please visit the event website at www.beachworldtour.ch.