Marcio (left) and Benjamin celebrate their third tournament since reuniting as a pair in 2011, by winning gold at the Paf Open
Aland, Finland, August 21, 2011 — Fifth seeds Marcio Araujo and Benjamin Insfran celebrated the rebirth of their partnership by claiming the gold medal at the Paf Open after first seeds Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser were forced to retire from the gold medal match when Rogers injured his knee.
The Paf Open final was the first time Marcio and Benjamin have participated since reuniting as a pairing. They only teamed up following the Moscow Grand Slam in July and finished ninth at both the Mazury Open Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki and the A1 Grand Slam powered by Volksbank in Klagenfurt. Earlier in their careers the pair played together from 1999 until the end of 2004.
“After the game I went to them and said 'I would have liked to beat you in two sets',” Marcio said. “The feeling isn’t so good when you win like this, but the win is a win and the feeling is good when you win. You would rather win on the court, but this is an important win for us.”
Rogers first injured his knee when the United States pair were leading 18-15. He called a timeout, but afterwards he was noticeably hobbling. Despite trying to play on, he was forced to stop with the scores tied at 21-21.
It now leaves a big question mark over whether they will be able to compete in the HP Open in the The Hague, which runs from August 23-28.
“Hopefully it is nothing serious,” Dalhausser said. “Knowing Todd though, he will take care of it, work hard and try to get back as quickly as possible. We were supposed to play the next tournament, but it doesn’t look too good right now.”
In 2010 Rogers and Dalhausser beat Marcio and Ricardo Santos in the Paf Open final and they also beat Marcio and Benjamin in the fourth round of this year’s tournament.
“They are a great team,” Marcio said. “Two days ago on Friday we lost to them, but we are taking it step by step and gradually improving so we can beat the top teams.
“It isn’t good to win like this, but if you want to win, you have to get to the final. I’m very happy to win, but I’m sad for them and hope they get better soon.”
At a combined 76 years of age, they are the eldest pairing to have won a FIVB World Tour title. Despite their recent unification they have their sights set on playing together at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“It is an important win because we need points for the Olympic qualification race,” Marcio said. “We played together at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and were together for about six years. So it is nice to be back together as he is my friend.
“We have a good chance of getting to the Olympics, but we aren’t thinking about this yet. We have to play every tournament and focus on that tournament for the week and let the future take care of itself. But for sure we are getting better and better.”
FIVB 2011 world champions and second seeds Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti took the bronze medal, following a thrilling 26-24, 16-21, 16-14 win over Mariusz Prudel and Grzegorz Fijalek in a thrilling bronze medal match.
“That was the toughest match of my life and we are very satisfied,” Emanuel said. “It has been a long season with many tournaments and this is our third in a row.”
In the first set the Polish pair doggedly clung on and refused to be overawed by their more illustrious opponents. The Brazilians had match point at 20-19, but twice Prudel and Fijalek fought back and even had a match point of their own. Eventually Emanuel and Alison took the set with their fifth match point.
Again Emanuel and Alison were pushed hard in the second. Eventually the Polish duo opened a lead and Prudel spiked to give them match point and he won them then set with a subtle lob shot at the net.
The intensity didn’t let up in the final set and though it appeared that Emanuel and Alison had opened up a convincing lead at 11-8 Prudel and Fijalek came back and led 12-11. The Brazilians responded in turn and took the set and the bronze medal with their second match point.
“The last two points were crucial for us,” Emanuel said. “It was a tough game and we had to give everything out there.”
The Paf Open was the 12th stage of the 14 tournament men’s 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, which concludes at the Morocco Open in Agadir from October 4 to 9.