Gstaad, Switzerland, July 5, 2012—Working hard not to be distracted by the amazing ambience and serenity of this magnificently quaint village in the lush Swiss Alps Thursday, nine teams from seven countries dug, spiked and smashed the Mikasa through two pool play matches undefeated as the men’s 32-team main draw began at the $600,000 1to1 energy Grand Slam in Gstaad, Switzerland.
The world’s top beach volleyball tandems have returned to Switzerland as the extremely popular double-gender event marks the 13th consecutive visit by the world tour with Gstaad hosting 11 men’s and 12 previous women’s events. Village Gstaad is nestled in a magnificent valley in Southwestern Switzerland at 3,440 feet (1,050 meters) above sea-level, the highest altitude a FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour stop is held annually.
NINE COUNTRIES ROAR
Brazil and the United States each had two undefeated teams Thursday and the other unbeaten countries in the men’s main draw in Gstaad Thursday are: Germany, Italy, Latvia, Poland and Switzerland.
The fifth of an FIVB-record eight grand slams on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour schedule, the 1to1 energy Grand Slam began with women’s country quota matches on Monday with the women’s single elimination qualification tournament on Tuesday to determine the final eight spots in the 32-team main draw on Wednesday through Friday. 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. The men’s schedule mirrors the women, and started one day later with country quota matches on Tuesday.
While dismal forecasts and mostly cloudy skies kept an edge in the air, no rainstorms like the one that delayed play on Wednesday materialized Thursday and the 2-0 men’s teams are Brazil’s second-seeded defending Gstaad champions Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego (pool K), Brazil’s sixth-seeded Benjamin Insfran/Bruno Oscar Schmidt, Germany’s 19th-seeded David Klemperer/Eric Koreng (pool L), Italy’s 13th-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai (pool M), Latvia’s fourth-seeded Aleksandrs Samoliovs/Ruslans Sorokins (pool M), Poland’s 21st-seeded Michael Kadziola/Jakub Szalenkiewicz (pool N), Switzerland’s 24th-seeded Martin Laciga/Jonas Weingart (pool Q), USA’s top-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (pool J) and USA’s seventh-seeded Matt Fuerbringer/Nick Lucena (pool P).
All the undefeated teams lead their respective pools except for Latvia’s Samoliovs/Sorokins who are second to Italy’s Lupo/Nicolai based on tiebreaker rules in pool M.
The surprising day of round-robin pool play saw several upsets. In the biggest seed breakthrough of the day, Poland’s 21st-seeded youngsters Kadziola/Szalenkiewicz, the 2009 FIVB SWATCH Junior World Champions, recorded two significant triumphs in their budding careers. First the knocked off 12th-seeded Polish compatriots Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel in three sets, 21-18, 18-21 and 15-10 in 54 minutes and then came back to stun Brazil’s fifth-seeded Pedro Cunha/Ricardo Santos, 21-16, 21-18 in 39 minutes.
Another of the major upsets was recorded by Germany’s Klemperer/Koreng when they knocked off USA’s third-seeded Jake Gibb/Sean Rosenthal in twin sets, 21-17, 21-19 in 40 minutes.
On the other side of the coin, USA’s top-seed Dalhausser/Rogers, who have won this tournament two times, won both of their matches Thursday in two sets. First they defeated Venezuela’s 32nd-seeded Jackson Henriquez/Farid Mussa, 21-18, 21-17 in 40 minutes and completed their day by winning in two sets over Kazakhstan’s 17th-seeded Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko, 21-19, 21-19 in 39 minutes.
Among those keeping pace with USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers was Brazil’s defending Gstaad champions Alison/Emanuel. Also winning in two sets each, the Brazilians first defeated Netherlands’ 31st-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen, 21-19, 21-17 in 34 minutes. Their second win was over Czech Republic’s 15th-seeded Petr Benes/Premysl Kubala, 26-24, 21-16 in 39 minutes.
TOP PLAYERS RETURN
The talented field includes the three of the final four finishers from both genders from last year. Last year’s men’s final four finishers in Gstaad were Brazil’s Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego (gold), USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (silver), Germany’s Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann (bronze) and Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel (fourth place). Brink/Reckermann aren’t playing here this year.
USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers have won two gold medals in Gstaad (2007 and 2010), Emanuel has won here three times including 2005 and 2006 with Ricardo Santos (who is playing this year with Pedro Cunha) and last year with Alison with whom he is playing this year as well. The 2007 title won by USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers was the FIVB SWATCH World Championship.
In last year’s women’s competition, Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca won gold for the second straight year, with silver going to China’s Chen Xue/Xi Zhang, the bronze to Italy’s Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti and fourth place for the second straight year to Brazil’s Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes. Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes are not in the women’s Gstaad field this year.
BIG FIELD IN GSTAAD
A total of 139 teams from 35 countries (76 men’s teams from 28 countries and 63 women’s teams from 23 countries) are competing in the 1to1 Energy Grand Slam, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United States, and Venezuela.
FIVB SWATCH WORLD TOUR CALENDAR
The 2012 calendar features 13 women's and 13 men's events, including nine double-gender tournaments, within four of the five FIVB confederations in addition to the approaching 2012 London Olympic Games on July 28 to August 9 in a purpose-built 15,000 stadium on the grounds of the iconic Horse Guards Parde. The 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour is offering $6.32-million in prize money.
BIG PURSE IN GSTAAD
The gold medal teams in each gender in the 1to1 energy Grand Slam will each split $43,500, the silver $29,500, the bronze $23,000 and fourth place $18,400. The women’s medal matches will be held Saturday and the men’s medal matches will be played on Sunday in the raucous Gstaad stadium center court. For more information on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour or the event, please visit www.fivb.org. For additional information on the 1to1 energy Grand Slam, please visit the event website at www.beachworldtour.ch.
NEXT STOP: BERLIN
After the 1to1 energy Grand Slam, the 2012 FIVB Swatch World Tour continues with the next grand slam double-gender event July 10-15 in Berlin (Berlin Grand Slam). The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000. The 1to1 energy Grand Slam is the 239th women’s event and 279th 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 Feb. 17-22, 1987 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The first women’s event was played Aug. 14-16, 1992 at Almeria, Spain.