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

Brazil’s Alison and Emanuel claim their first Moscow Grand Slam title

The 2011 Moscow podium with Brazil's gold medallists Alison/Emanuel in the middle.
Moscow, Russia, July 17, 2011 – Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego claimed their fourth World Tour title on Sunday in Russia. On a rainy centre court at the Pokklonaya Gora in Moscow they beat Swiss team Jefferson Bellaguarda and Patrick Heuscher in a thrilling final. World champions Alison and Emanuel needed three sets, 21-16 18-21 17-15, to secure their second World Tour title on a row after Gstaad last week. It was their first win in Russia, finishing 9th last year. Olympic champions Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers took bronze after defeating last year’s winners Penggen Wu and Linyin Xu in the 3rd place match.

The first set of the final was a fairly easy win for 25-year old Alison and 38-year old Emanuel. But in the second the Swiss took control at the end of the set, serving really well, finishing 21-18. In the tiebreak the thousands of spectators who bravely withstood the rain got treated to some excellent rallies and the gold medal could go either way. The more experienced Brazilians, together since 2010, pulled through in the end at 17-15. “In the second and third set the Swiss really played well’’, three time world champion and 2004 olympic champion Emanuel said after the final. “Me and Alison both had trouble receiving their service. Also, it started to rain in the second set. I think they like this type of weather, but we Brazilians don’t. It makes me feel cold, I lose concentration and the ball slips and is hard to control. But we worked as a team and in the end that worked.”

Bellaguarda and Heuscher, only playing their 7th FIVB tournament together, played the Brazilian one previous time, also losing in three sets. For Heuscher, who previously teamed with Stefan Kobel and Sascha Heyer, this was his first World Tour final since the Zagreb Open in 2007, where he finished second with Heyer. Heuscher (34) has been playing on the FIVB World Tour since 1997, winning three World Tour titles, Gstaad in 2004 (Kobel), Grand Slam in Paris in 2005 (Kobel), Roseto degli Abruzzi in 2006 (Kobel). For Bellaguarda it was his first final, but not his first medal since they won bronze in the Beijing Grand Slam this year. “I am a bit disappointed of course not winning today, but also happy with silver. If we continue to play like this, we can beat anyone.”

Earlier that day the Swiss proved that to be true by upsetting olympic champions Phil Dalhausser/Tod Rogers in the semi-final. They won in three sets 21-16 14-21 15-12, successfully avoiding Dalhausser block by dinking a lot of shots. “I should have done a better job in blocking higher”, 2,06 meters tall Dalhausser said. “But they are a good team. The problem is that there are so many strong teams on the Tour now. We have not been playing that well after I hurt my ankle in Beijing. Physically it is ok, but mentally it might still play a role.”

Dalhausser and Rogers, who finished second in 2010, collected their 7th bronze medal after defeating Wu/Xu later on in 25-27 24-22 17-15. In 45 FIVB events they have won 19 gold, 6 silver and 7 bronze medals. The Americans set a record earlier this season by winning seven consecutive World Tour titles (2010 included), but the gold medal match in Prague, lost to Alison/Emanuel, in May ended that. Since then the results were not that great, losing their world title in Rome, finishing ninth. But while China’s Wu/Xu are still struggling as their last medal (gold) dates back to Brasilia in April, Dalhausser/Rogers seem on their way back with silver in Gstaad last week and bronze in Moscow.

The Chinese lost to Alison and Emanuel in the first semi-final of the day. Their previous meetings were in the semi-finals in Brasilia and Prague this year, also won by Brazil. Alison/Emanuel steadily build up a small lead in both sets, never under real pressure: 21-18 21-17 in 36 minutes. Xu: “We have lost confidence, we need to work on that, but in order to do so we need to win prizes again. We also need to play with more passion.”

Alison and Emanuel earned $43,500 and 800 points and are well on their way in this important pre-olympic year. Second place Bellaguarda/Heuscher take home $29,500 and 720 point, Dalhausser/Rogers $23,000 and 640 points. USA's Misty May-Treanor/Walsh won the women’s 2011 Moscow Grand Slam by defeating Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa in the final.

The FIVB Swatch Moscow Grand Slam was the fourth of six grand slams on the 2011 World Tour Calendar and the 265 men’s FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour event (open, Grand Slam, Olympic and Goodwill). The first FIVB Swatch World Tour event was played February 17-22, 1987 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Next week the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour leaves Europe for North America for the double-gender Open in Québec, Canada from July 19-24. The following week, the Tour returns to Europe for the final two double-gender Grand Slams in Stare Jablonski, Poland from July 25-31 and Klagenfurt, Austria from August 1-7.   
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