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Moscow Grand Slam | Men
  12/07/2011 - 17/07/2011

Brazil, China, Switzerland and USA in final four Moscow Grand Slam

Swiss Patrick Heuscher (left) and Jefferson Bellaguarda are in the final four in Moscow
Moscow, Russia, July 16, 2011 – Teams from Brazil, China, Switzerland and USA reached the final four of the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour Moscow Grand Slam on Saturday. In the semi-finals world champions and first seeded Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego are set up against defending champions Penggen Wu and Linyin Xu from China. Olympic champions Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers will play new Swiss team Patrick Heuscher and Jefferson Bellaguarda in the other semi-final.

On the last but one day of the men’s tournament at the Poklonnaya Gora in the Russian capital there were two mayor upsets. Vice-world champions and third seeded Marcio Araujo and Ricardo Santos and second seeded Germans Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann were eliminated in the second knockout round.

Germany’s Brink and Reckermann have been in the final four of the past five mayor events, including the World Championships in Rome where they finished third. In Moscow they surprisingly lost 21-14 21-19 to Brazilian qualifiers Harley Marques/Thiago Barbosa (22nd), finishing only ninth. Struggling in both sets Brink/Reckermann never had a real chance against the Brazilians.

Strong serving Christopher McHugh and Joshua Slack upset Brazil’s Marcio and Ricardo in the second round. The Australians, who entered the tournament on a wild card, needed just two sets, 21-10 21-18, and 34 minutes. For Marcio and Ricardo, who won the Stavanger Grand Slam two weeks ago, Moscow was their last tournament together. Ricardo decided to go on with Pedro Cunha. “We played very bad”, Marcio said after the game. “I don’t know. Maybe it was motivation.”

McHugh and three-time olympian Slack stranded later that day in the quarterfinal against China’s Wu and Xu. The match looked promising for the Australians after they won the first set 21-19 but in the last two sets McHugh’s service stagnated and the Chinese, who also needed three sets (21-18 27-29 15-10) against Germany’s Sebastian Dollinger/Stefan Windscheif in the second round, put the pressure on. Wu/Xu won 19-21 21-16 15-11 in 51 minutes.

Fourth seeded Dalhausser and Rogers had a slow start on centre court against Germany’s Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik. Coming back seven points from behind they took the first set in 26-24, lost the second (18-21) to win the third in 15-8. It was the second encounter between the two teams, USA leads 2-0. In the quarterfinal Dalhausser/Rogers defeated fifth seeded Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel in two sets (23-21 21-18).

Swiss veterans Heuscher (34) and Bellaguarda (34) only started playing together this season, but already reached third place in the Beijing Grand Slam. Saturday they first beat sixth seeded David Klemperer and Eric Koreng in two sets (21-19 21-16), and then advanced to the semi-finals by beating Brazil’s Harley Marques and Thiago Barbosa in a very close game (18-21 22-20 15-12. Heuscher: “Brazil served really tough in the beginning, but could not hold that level. Otherwise we never would have won. Also Harley was a bit insecure after he made some settings errors.”

Heuscher/Bellaguarda meet olympic champions Dalhausser and Rogers in the semi-final. They played each other in Shanghai (21-12 19-21 15-13) and Stavanger (17-21 21-19 15-9) the Americans won both matches. “I have never won against them in the past. I always lose, but hey, everything changes now.”

In the other semi-final world champions and World Tour leaders Alison/Emanuel lead the series against Penggen Wu/Linyin Xu 2-0, after the teams met in the semi-finals in Prague 2010 (22-20 21-18) and this year in Brasilia (21-16 21-16).

Alison and Emanuel reached the final four by eliminating Konstantin Semenov/Yaroslav Koshkarev, Russia’s only remaining home team, and Brazil’s Bruno Schmidt/Benjamin Insfran (21-18 21-18). Fierce serving Semenov, tallest player (2,08 m) in this tournament, and Koshkarev won the first set against the world champions in 29-27. The last two points were aces by Semenov. But experienced Emanuel and Alison recovered, although especially Alison struggled with the strong wind on centre court. They won the second set (21-11) and came back from behind in the third (15-13), Alison finishing the game with a killer block.

The men’s semi-finals of the 2011 Moscow Grand Slam are scheduled for the afternoon, the medal matches for the evening. Winners will split $43,500, silver medallists $29,500 and third place $23,000.

In 2010 Wu/Xu beat Dalhausser/Rogers in the final in three sets (21-17 17-21 17-15). Brink/Reckermann won the bronze medal after defeating Americans Casey Jennings/Bradley Keenan in two sets (21-17 21-17).

The 2011 Moscow Grand Slam is on the FIVB Swatch World Tour calendar for the fourth consecutive year. Previous World Tour events in Russia alternated between Moscow (1998, 1999, men’s only) and St. Petersburg (1994, 2005, 2006, 2007, double gender).   
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17/07/2011 Brazil’s Alison and Emanuel claim their first Moscow Grand Slam title
16/07/2011 Brazil, China, Switzerland and USA in final four Moscow Grand Slam
15/07/2011 Brazil and Germany rule in men’s Moscow Grand Slam
14/07/2011 Vice-world champions Ricardo and Marcio no longer a team
14/07/2011 Twelve teams unbeaten in men’s Moscow Grand Slam
13/07/2011 Eight countries advance to main draw at Moscow Grand Slam
12/07/2011 Dollinger/Windscheif earn spot in men’s qualification tournament in Moscow
7/07/2011 Chinese teams to defend their title in Moscow
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