Klagenfurt, Austria, August 6, 2011 – Surviving the battle of country quota matches, qualification tournament, main draw pool play and then three rounds of the single-elimination bracket play, two sturdy men’s beach volleyball tandems from Brazil and one each from Germany, and the United States have battled through the challenges to earn their final four spots in Sunday’s semifinals and medal matches as the week-long $600,000 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee, a double-gender event on the 2011 Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour concludes.
Winning the dramatic quarterfinal matches early Saturday evening in front of nearly 10,000 celebratory fans at the Klagenfurt center court stadium and court 2 were USA’s second-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers, Brazil’s fourth-seeded Pedro Cunha/Ricardo Santos, Germany’s third-seeded Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann, Brazil’s 14th-seeded Joao Maciel/Bruno Oscar Schmidt.
The world’s best beach volleyball tandems are back in Austria as the double-gender event marks the 15th consecutive visit by the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour with Klagenfurt hosting 14 previous men’s events and 10 previous women’s events. In 2001 Klagenfurt hosted the FIVB Swatch World Championships and has hosted a grand slam every year since 2002.
Also on Saturday, the women’s semis and gold medal matches were held on the Klagenfurt center court and winning the women’s gold medal was USA’s Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh, their 38th FIVB career gold medal as a team. On Sunday, the internationally televised men’s semifinals and medal matches will be played in the Klagenfurt center court stadium starting in the early morning and continuing to late afternoon.
The last of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank in Klagenfurt, the women’s semifinals and medal matches will be played Saturday with the men’s “final four” matches Sunday as the winning pairs in 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 finishing teams will each receive $18,400.
The matchups for Sunday morning’s men’s semifinals will have Brazil’s Cunha/Ricardo vs. USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers and the other semifinal will feature Brazil’s Maciel/Schmidt vs. Germany’s Brink/Reckermann.
Previewing the semifinals, while Brazil’s Cunha/Ricardo are both veterans with 53 FIVB Swatch World Tour career wins between them, this is only their second tournament together and they will meeting USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers for the first time. While this is the first final four appearance for Brazil’s Cunha/Ricardo, it is the 37th final four for USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers duo who are playing their 48th world tour event as a team.
In the other semifinal Sunday morning, it will be Brazil’s Maciel/Schmidt vs. Germany’s Brink/Reckermann. It will be the third meeting between the two teams as Maciel/Schmidt defeated Brink/Reckermann in two sets in pool play here in Klagenfurt and Brink/Reckerman won in the quarterfinals in Poland last week in two sets.
In Saturday’s quarterfinal matches, Cunha/Ricardo outlasted Czech Republic’s 19th-seeded Petr Benes/Premsyl Kubala, 21-19, 18-21 and 15-10 in 55 minutes, USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers beat Norway’s 21st-seeded Tarjei Skarlund/Martin Spinnangr, 26-24, 21-11 in 42 minutes, Brazil’s Maciel/Schmidt stopped USA’s 24th-seeded Casey Jennings/Kevin Wong in straight sets, 21-19, 21-15 in 39 minutes and Germany’s Brink/Reckmann eliminated USA’s 15th-seeded Matt Fuerbringer/Nick Lucena, 21-17, 21-19 in 44 minutes.
The losers of the quarterfinals all finish in fifth place and leave Austria with $13,200 in prize money.
Winners of the last two FIVB Swatch World Tour event gold medals, three Klagenfurt gold medals including the last two years straight, USA’s Olympic champions Dalhausser/Rogers had a tough first set against Norway’s Skarlund/Spinnangr, finally winning it in overtime but in the second set the Norwegians seemed to lose steam and the Americans won convincingly. The match ended with a Roger’s block and kill down the line and a Dalhausser service ace.
“Not sure exactly what happened to them in the second set, or maybe it was more us being more consistent that helped us get through the second one more quickly,” said Rogers afterwards. “We had some errors in the first set and we couldn’t close on some opportunities, but they hung in there and gave us fits. This is such a great tournament and we’re happy to keep playing on Sunday. The crowd has so much fun makes all the teams want to play that much harder because they are enjoying it all so much. Sunday has a tough final four with some new teams in it so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.”
With their quarterfinal victories, USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers increased their 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour record to 56-13 and Germany’s Brink/Reckermann tandem is 46-13.
Brazil’s two final four teams are filled with veterans but the Cunha/Ricardo duo is in just their second tournament as a team with a fifth place finish last week in Poland and a 4-2 record here in Klagenfurt. Brazil’s Maciel/Schmidt team is in their third tournament back together after not playing together in 2010. This their 24th all-time FIVB Swatch World Tour event together and their third final four slot and they have one silver medal. This year, they finished ninth in Canada and lost a country quota playoff match in Poland last week before going 6-0 so far in this tournament.
In Saturday’s round of 16, the losing teams received ninth place finishes and each split $8,000 in prize money.
In Saturday’s round of 16 matches, Brazil’s top-seeded Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego were upset by Brazil’s Cunha/Ricardo in two sets, USA’s Fuerbringer/Lucena won for this first time in three attempts over Switzerland’s 25th-seeded Sebastian Chevallier/Sascha Heyer, USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers eliminated Brazil’s fifth-seeded Marcio Araujo/Benjamin Insfran also in two sets, Czech Republic’s Benes/Kubala stopped Georgia’s 27th-seeded Renato Gomes/Jorge Terceiro, Norway’s Skarlund/Spinnangr topped Latvia’s 20th-seeded Martins Plavins/Janis Smedins, Germany’s Brink/Reckermann eliminated Switzerland’s seventh-seeded Jefferson Bellaguarda/Patrick Heuscher, Brazil’s Maciel/Schmidt stopped Italy’s 16th-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai and USA’s Jennings/Wong survived three sets to eliminate.
After losing their first two pool play matches and barely qualifying for the main draw elimination bracket phase, Brazil’s Cunha/Ricardo pulled off the upset of the tournament so far by defeating Brazil’s top-seeded Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego in straight sets in Saturday morning’s round of 16, 21-21 and 21-18 in 38 minutes. Alison/Emanuel are in their second full season together with five gold medals this season on the world tour, lead the points and are on the verge of clinching the FIVB Swatch World Tour season championship but that celebration will have to wait until the tour resumes again after a week off in Finland.
The talented field includes the entire final four finishers from both genders from last year as well as at least one member of the men’s gold medal teams in Klagenfurt 12 of the previous 14 years and seven of the previous women’s gold medal winners. Three of the men’s gold medal teams are playing with new teammates at the extremely popular event and venue.
Last year’s men’s final four finishers in Klagenfurt were USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (gold), USA’s Matt Fuerbringer/Nick Lucena (Silver), Brazil’s Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego (bronze), Brazil’s Marcio Araujo/Ricardo Santos (fourth place).
The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour 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 A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank, the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour takes a week off for the 24-team women’s only Olympic test event in London’s Horse Guard’s Parade. Following that event, Europe hosts the final two double-gender open events of 2011 in Aland, Finland from August 15-21 and The Hague, Netherlands from August 23-28. The FIVB will then present the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch Junior World Championships for players under 21 years old, August 31-September 4 in Halifax, Canada.
The $600,000 FIVB A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank is the 229th women’s event and 268th 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. While this is the 25th year that the FIVB has sanctioned international pro beach volley events, it is the 23rd year of the men’s and 20th year of the women’s FIVB Swatch World Tour.
Also on-site this week at the Klagenfurt venue this week is a special production crew from IMG, the company that not only produces the live international telecasts of select matches, but also the weekly FIVB Swatch World Tour highlight show that is syndicated throughout the world.
For more information on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, please visit www.fivb.org or visit the event website at www.beachvolleyball.at.