Prague, Czech Republic, May 26, 2012 – World champions Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego from Brazil will defend their FIVB SWATCH Patria Direct Open title on Sunday against compatriots Ricardo Santos and Pedro Cunha. It will be the 63rd all-Brazilian final in the history of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.
Brazil's Ricardo Santos will encounter his old partner Emanuel Rego in the Prague final
Brazil could even end up with three medals in Prague since Pedro Solberg and Marcio Araujo will compete in the bronze medal match. They play the 2010 Prague champions and last year’s losing finalists Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser from the United States.
The American olympic champions were without set loss until the semifinal against Ricardo and Cunha, which they lost 21-17 21-19. In a very attractive match for the hundreds of fans on sunny Stvanice centre court the Brazilians served mostly on Rogers. Though the Americans survived more than one thrilling rally it proved to be a successful tactic, the ‘Professor‘ admitted afterwards.
Former world and olympic champion Ricardo and two time junior world champion Cunha will play their fourth final in just ten events together. They won all previous finals. But in Shanghai and Beijing they ended up 9th and that shook their faith a little.
‘‘The past two events the chemistry between us was not good‘‘, Cunha said. ‘‘So we decided that we should not be angry at each other any more when things go wrong and play more confident.‘‘ And apart from the first round match, which they lost to qualifiers Kadziola/Szalankiewicz, they did.
Alison and Emanuel also had a little bump in the road earlier this tournament, losing to 21st-seeded Kazakhs Dyachenko/Sidorenko in the second round. On Saturday they first played Dutch Stiekema/Varenhorst (21-15 21-17) and Latvia’s Samoilovs/Sorokins (21-13 21-13) to finally reach the final four.
‘‘Yes, we took the long road‘‘, Emanuel said after they won the semifinal against their compatriots Pedro and Marcio in three sets and 53 minutes: 21-14 20-22 15-12. ‘‘This was match number eight this week. But we played from the heart en found some energy there.‘‘
Just a few weeks ago they lost their first encounter with Pedro and Marcio in Shanghai. ‘‘The difference this time? We used their energy against them. They always fight each other on the court and we used that fire against them.‘‘
That did not work in the second set though. Pedro and Marcio came back from behind at 19-19 and started targeting Alison. The 26-year-old could not handle that pressure and made mistakes, hitting the ball out and losing the set 22-20 to Pedro and Marcio. In the tiebreak Emanuel was able to calm his partner down. They took a lead from 9-9 and went on to 15-12 to capture a spot in the final.
In the gold medal match Emanuel will be reunited with his old partner Ricardo again. In almost nine seasons together they won olympic gold in 2004 in Athens, the World Championships in Rio de Janeiro in 2003 and over 30 event titles.
The teams are tied 1-1 so far.
‘‘It is always a difficult match against Ricardo because we know each other so well‘‘, Emanuel said. Pedro Cunha had a different opinion: ‘‘The most difficult match is already behind us‘‘, he said after their victory against Rogers and Dalhausser.
The final on the centre court on Stvanice Island starts at 16.00 on Sunday. The bronze medal match is scheduled for 15.00. The winners of the $190.000 Patria Direct Open share $30.000, losing finalists $21.000 and the bronze medallists split $15.000.
After Prague the FIVB SWATCH World Tour features five Grand Slams until the start of the London Olympic Games on July 28. The first two in Moscow (June 6-12) and Rome (12-17) are the last events counting for the olympic ranking.