Gstaad, Switzerland, July 10, 2011—With the sun breaking through the remnants of a midday rain storm, Brazil’s nearly invincible Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego captured their fourth gold medal in the last five events on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, Sunday, winning the $600,000 FIVB Swatch 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011.
The world’s top beach volleyball tandems were 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. Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca won the women’s gold medal on Saturday in Gstaad.
To win the gold medal Sunday amidst the towering pines, lush green hillside and jagged-edged, snow-capped mountain tops of the Swiss Alps, Brazil’s Cerutti/Rego overcame the defense of USA’s fourth-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers in a tight 42-minute championship match, 22-20, 21-19 in a match that thrilled the over 6,000 enthusiastic fans that filled the Gstaad stadium center court.
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 received $43,500 first-place prizes. Silver medalists split $29,500 while bronze medal winners divided $23,000 and the fourth place finishers received $18,400.
In what became a matter of the team with the fewest errors wins, the first set was tied 19 times and there were three lead changes as neither team led by more than one point until Brazil scored the final two points of the set on a Alison cross court kill by Dalhausser and then Dalhausser kill attempt landed just outside the line.
The second set was similar with 13 ties as both teams continued to make great plays offensively and defensively. Alison/Emanuel benefitted from some hitting and serving errors by both Dalhausser and Rogers as 6-8 Alison continues to improve his overall play while the Brazilians made few mistakes of their own. Dalhausser/Rogers fell behind 9-12 and tied it again at 12-12 and again at every point up to 19-19 when Emanuel scored on a kill and another massive Alison block.
Playing in just their 19th FIVB Swatch World Tour event together, Alison/Emanuel won their fourth gold medal and made the final four for the 13th time. For the legendary Emanuel, 38, it was his 73rd FIVB Swatch World Tour career gold medal.
For USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers, who won the gold medal in Gstaad last year, this was their 33rd final four appearance in 44 world tour events together and their sixth silver medal. With the series record between the two at 8-3 in favor of Dalhausser/Rogers, the two teams have met in three gold medal matches this year with Dalhausser/Rogers winning the first meeting in Brasilia in April and Alison/Emanuel winning in Prague in May and today in Gstaad.
“This was a very special and emotional win for us, especially because Phil and Todd are such a great team and they have done so well over the years. Alison and I are just getting better as a team and I know we have won four of the last five tournaments, including the world championships, but we still have a long way to go. We didn’t lose our concentration today against the Americans and made some huge plays because of it and as close as the match was, that was the difference today. It was close enough to go either way in both sets, but today was our day. As a team, we are still learning the best way to bring out the best in both of us, but we are getting closer and closer. We have to remember that this is only our second season playing together.”
Rogers said following the match, “It’s disappointing, especially because we were the defending champions in Gstaad. We had several opportunities but a silver medal on the world tour is still significant. Phil and I both would do some things differently, but when a match is as close as this one was, little things can change the outcome and it did today. We’ll keep moving on and hope to learn more from our mistakes. For such a young player, Alison is really developing quickly.”
In the bronze medal match, that experienced some summer showers during much of it, Germany’s second-seeded Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann bounced back from their semifinal loss to hold off Poland’s fifth-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel, 22-20, 21-17 in 44 minutes.
With the first going point for point until Brink and Reckermann each scored a point to break the 20-20 tie and win the match. The second set played out differently with Brink/Reckermann jumping off to a 4-1 and Fijalek/Prudel never tied the set or got the lead and the closest they got was two points and 5-3, 6-4 and 16-14 before Brink/Reckermann ended it with the final four-point margin.
With a 5-1 FIVB career record against Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel, Germany’s Brink/Reckermann earned their ninth career FIVB Swatch World Tour bronze medal along with their 20th final four finish in 24 tournaments played together. The Brink/Reckermann tandem has won four bronze medals and one silver in the last five 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour events. Germany’s Brink/Reckerman leave Gstaad with a bronze medal and a 5-2 record, with five of their seven matches going to three sets.
“The semifinal was very close against the Americans,” said Brink after the bronze medal match. “Unfortunately we lost to the Americans, like many other games we lost this season that were very close. But still it is better to go out of a tournament with a victory and a medal so we are happy now. We are proud that we could get over the frustration after losing the semifinals against the Americans and concentrate on the bronze medal match.”
For Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel, who won the silver medal last week in Stavanger, Norway, they now have six career final four finishes in 32 FIVB Swatch World Tour events as a team. Also finishing fourth in Gstaad last year, Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel finished with a 5-2 record in Gstaad.
As another near-capacity crowd vocally supported the teams on the Gstaad center court In the semifinals, Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel overwhelmed Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel, 21-17, 21-16 in 41 minutes in the first battle followed by another epic battle in their series against each other USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers came from behind to defeat Germany’s Brink/Reckermann, 18-21, 21-13 and 15-13 in 54 minutes.
While Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel played like well-oiled machines in dismantling Poland’s talented Fijalek/Prudel in their first-ever meeting on the FIVB Swatch World Tour, the match between USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers and Germany’s Brink/Reckerman was another masterpiece in the history of the series between the two world champion teams.
With four ties in the first set, both teams swapped leads of as much as three points but after it was tied at 14-15, Brink/Reckerman squeezed a two-point lead and then three which was the final margin.
The second set was near opposite of the first as Dalhausser/Rogers broke open he match after it was tied at 2-2 building up five and then seven point leads before the set ended with an eight-point margin.
In the tiebreaker third set, two of the titans of international pro beach volleyball put on a classic exhibition of beach volleyball at the highest level, to the enjoyment of the Gstaad’s center court capacity crowd. With both teams displaying the athletic skills individually and as teams, the score was tied 11 times with the last at 13-13. After following behind for the first time in the match at 11-12, USA’s Dalhauser/Rogers rallied to score four of the last five points of the match. With the score tied 13-13, USA closed out the win on a Rogers cross-court kill then a serve that could be returned by Germany’s Brink, even after a valiant attempt for a recovering sent Reckermann diving into the peremeter barriers on the back end of the court as the match ended. With the win, USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers broke a three-match losing streak to Brink/Reckermann and improved their career FIVB Swatch World Tour record to 8-4 against the Germans.
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 Monday through next Sunday 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, was 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.