Berlin, Germany, July 13, 2012 – Jacob Gibb and Sean Rosenthal ensured that they remain on course for three consecutive FIVB SWATCH World Tour gold medals when they reached the semifinals of the smart Grand Slam, Berlin on Friday.
First up the US team came back from a set down to beat compatriots Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser 18-21, 23-21, 15-10, then they had to do the same to beat Germany’s last remaining pair Eric Koreng and David Klemperer 22-24, 21-17, 15-10 and silence a boisterous centre court crowd.
“That was a big win for us,” Gibb said. “For the last three years we have always gone three (sets) with them and it is always a battle right to the end. They beat us last week in Gstaad, so this was a big one for us.
“They were definitely pumped in front of their home crowd and they were hitting hard and playing really well.”
The win means that there remains the intriguing possibility of Gibb and Rosenthal meeting Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti in a third-consecutive World Tour final if they beat Polish pair Mariusz Prudel and Grzegorz Fijalek. In the two most recent finals in Rome and Gstaad it is the Americans who have finished with the win.
FIVB world champions Emanuel and Alison also continued their unbeaten progression through the rounds to reach the semifinals with a win over Brazilian compatriots Marcio Araujo and Pedro Salgado.
Marcio and Pedro were in determined mood from the start and won the first set, but with Alison in powerful form at the net Emanuel was able to play off him and the pair eventually secured a 17-21, 21-18, 15-13 victory.
“We are very excited with how we are playing,” Emanuel said. “It is always difficult to play another Brazilian team, but Alison played great and made some really important blocks.”
Emanuel and Alison have finished on the podium in their last five FIVB SWATCH World Tour events and are hopeful that their good form can continue when they take part at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“We have been together since 2010 and the target was always 2012. We have worked hard to arrive here to be in the best shape we can be,” Emanuel continued. "This year has been a tough year for us, but we have done our best to be ready.”
The Brazilian pair will be up against Dutch veterans Reiner Nummerdor and Richard Schuil, who saw off Kay Matysik and Jonathan Erdmann in three sets. It is the second time that Nummerdor and Schuil beat the German pair in the tournament, after they won their match in the pool stage.
“We lost the last three before the pool match and they are a difficult team for us and it is always difficult to beat the same team twice in a row,” Nummerdor said. “We did some hard physical work ahead of the Olympics and while last week wasn’t good our level is improving quickly and we are really pleased with how we are doing right now.”
It has been a mixed season for the pair so far. They have won one gold and one silver medal on Tour, but then failed to progress beyond the first knockout round in the two most recent tournaments. Now with the London Olympics on the horizon they are hopeful their form can continue on its upwards swing.
“We are really happy to be in the semifinals because we had two bad results in a row and came 17th in the last two Grand Slams,” Nummerdor said. “We have had some great results this year, but it has been a little bit up and down.”
The smart Grand Slam Berlin is the seventh of nine mixed gender tournaments on the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour and the ninth men’s tournament of the year. The men’s final is scheduled to take place on Saturday July 14 and the winning side will leave with the largest share from a purse of $300,000 per gender.
The Berlin tournament is the penultimate before the London 2012 Olympic Games in which 24 men’s and women’s teams will play for gold at London’s Horse Guard’s Parade.
The men’s calendar is set to culminate with the Mazurly Orlen Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki, Poland from August 14-19.