When the round of 16 began Italy’s Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo
pulled off a major shock. Less than 24 hours after winning a lucky
losers’ match against Canada’s Martin Reader and Josh Binstock, they
beat the American defending champions and second seeds, Todd
Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, 21-17, 21-19 – a sad farewell for Rogers
who confirmed that he would not carry on to Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“It is great, it’s fantastic, we’ve played the best team in the world and
we won,” Nicolai said. “I think we played well throughout the match
and had great intensity. For Italy it was already an historic Olympics
as we are the first men’s team to come and now we have beaten the
reigning Olympic champions.”
At the same stage Ricardo Santos and Pablo Herrera, opponents in the
Athens 2004 final when Ricardo won gold with Emanuel, met again
and the Brazilian prevailed once more as he and Pedro Cunha beat
Spain’s Herrera and Adrian Gavira 21-18, 21-19. But that was as good
as it got for Cunha and Ricardo who fell 21-15, 21-19 to Brink and
Reckermann in the last eight.
The quarterfinal action had begun with a scare for Emanuel and Alison
who saved a match point before squeezing past Poland’s Grzegorz
Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel 21-17, 16-21, 17-15. There was no such
let-off for fourth seeds Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal, though, who
succumbed to Plavins and Smedins. “I didn’t see their defence and
usually I’m better at picking up on it,” Gibb said. “I thought we would
come back thewholeway through, but I’mnot surewhat went wrong.”
Nummerdor and Schuil outfoxed Nicolai and Lupo to complete the
semifinal lineup and surpass their 2008 quarterfinal placing.
Against Brink and Reckermann the next day, though, they finished
second best, losing 21-14, 21-16 as the Germans set up their final
showdown against Emanuel and Alison. The Brazilians had beaten
Plavins and Smedins 21-15, 22-20 earlier in the day but knew there
was still work to do. “There’s one more game,” said Emanuel. And
what a game it would prove to be.
Full results, page 62
Paolo Nicolai of Italy, who with Daniele Lupo put out defending champions Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser
Russia’s Konstantin Semenov (left) and Serguei Prokopiev contested the tournament’s two longest matches, lasting 69 and 66 minutes
Germany reach Europe’s golden goal