Rome, Italy, June 17, 2012 – Jacob Gibb and Sean Rosenthal ended their long wait for a first grand slam gold medal on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour with a win over reigning FIVB world champions Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti at the smart, Grand Slam Rome on Sunday.
USA's Jacob Gibb (left) and Sean Rosenthal celebrated their first ever FIVB World Tour gold medal after beating Emanuel and Alison in the final of the smart Grand Slam, Rome
The USA duo beat the Brazilian pair in straight sets, 21-13, 21-12 on the centre court where they won the world title 12 months ago.
“I can’t believe it really,” Gibb said. “It was a big win for us here. They are the world champions and in my opinion the best in the world and we got lucky tonight.
“This is our first grand slam and it is something I haven’t done in 12 years of my career, so it is a very special moment.”
Gibb and Rosenthal’s victory is their second time they have finished on a World Tour podium in 2012. Earlier in the year they won silver at the Shanghai Grand Slam.
For Emanuel and Alison the loss stopped them from winning back to back grand slam gold medals after they had won the Moscow Grand Slam last time out. However, it is the fourth time that they have finished on the podium having also won silver at the Prague Open and bronze at the Beijing Grand Slam.
Key to the American’s victory was Gibb’s ability to nullify the threat of Alison at the net. The 203cm player was unable to dominate his opponents in the same manner as he had earlier in the tournament.
Gibb’s work meant that Rosenthal was able to work hard in defence at the back of the court and he was rewarded for his efforts with the smart Player of the Tournament award.
“How do you deal with him?” Gibb continued. “He is the best blocker in the world and he we had to find a way around him tonight. He is a very special player.”
Sebastian Chevalier and Sasha Hoyer claimed the bronze medal with a 23-21, 21-13 victory against Matthew Fuerbringer and Nicholas Lucena.
The Swiss dominated throughout the match and the USA pair were unable to cope with Hoyer’s dominance at the net and Chevalier’s movement and agility at the back of the court.
It is the first time in three matches that Chevalier and Hoyer have beaten Fuerbringer and Lucena and their first podium finish since they won bronze at the 2011 Prague Open.
“It is amazing,” Chevalier said. “We were two-two in head to heads and we won the first two and they won the latest two, so we were not overly confident, but we knew how to play against them.
“We played really well and served really well. That made the game easier and then we were able to take our chances.”
The smart Grand Slam, Rome is the seventh tournament on the men’s FIVB SWATCH World Tour, which features 12 events and culminates with the Agadir Open in Morocco in October.
Rome is the last tournament in which world ranking points count towards qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games and the winning team left with a prize of $43,000. The next FIVB SWATCH World Tour event takes place in Gstaad, Switzerland from July 2-8.