Alison and Emanuel win back-to-back titles in Moscow
The reigning world champions won their sixth title in 28 events, the last one dating back to exactly the same place. There was another Brazilian team on the Moscow podium as Ricardo Santos and Pedro Cunha edged European champions Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann in two sets (21-19 21-14).
The top seeded Dutch were set on another grand slam victory as they collected their first in seven seasons only a few weeks ago in Beijing. But they had the odds against them, having lost all four previous encounters with Alison and Emanuel.
The Brazilians started the game with short serves on Nummerdor and that was very effective in the first set: 21-16. The 2007, 2008 and 2009 European champions recovered in the second, with some great blocking by Schuil, and both teams did not give an inch until 19-19. Then the game went into a thrilling end with alternating match and set points. Eventually the Brazilians saved four set points before Alison secured the gold at their fifth match point.
First gold medal of the season
‘’We are very happy with our first gold medal this year’’, 2004 olympic champion Emanuel said. So far he and Alison won bronze in Beijing and silver in Prague this year. ‘’The main priority in this olympic year is to be on every podium. We improve step-by-step, but this is a big step because Moscow is a grand slam title. But we can not be happy about it too long because tomorrow Rome starts and it is a whole different game again.’’
Nummerdor praised Emanuel’s game, who had some great shots over the block down the line. ‘’He waits until the last moment, so you never know what he is going to do.’’ The two teams met last in Klagenfurt in August 2011. ‘’We would have loved to beat them, but anyway it was good to play them again after a long time. In this olympic year it is important to play your rivals so you know what to expect.’’
Like in the final there were also a lot of match points created and saved in the semifinals, again much to the delight of the audience. Alison and Emanuel had a rough start against Brink and Reckermann, losing the first set big: 15-21. But they came back strong in the second (21-14). In the tiebreak the Germans were on top again. Alison saved three German match points in a row at 11-14. Then he served in the net, but the Germans were not able to secure their fourth match point either. Brazil took the lead for the first time with a match point at 16-15 and again at 17-16. A miss hit by Reckermann decided the game in Brazil’s favour in the end: 15-21 21-14 18-16.
In the other semifinal the Dutch played a one hour and three minutes marathon match against Ricardo and Cunha. After winning the first set easily Nummerdor and Schuil seemed to cruise into the final in just two sets, having their first match point at 20-16. But the Brazilians saved four in a row and another one at 21-20. An excellent block by Ricardo on Nummerdor got the Brazilians their first set point at 21-22, but they had to wait till their second to take the set at 22-24. In the tiebreak Brazil was heading for victory, with a match point at 13-14 and again at 15-14, but it was the Dutch who prevailed in the end: 21-16 22-24 17-15.
Cunha: ‘’We had a great comeback and I had the opportunity to finish the match but I did not. I was very disappointed but recharged for the bronze medal match and we played very well. That is a difficult for a player, so I am happy we were able to set aside the disappointment.’’
Bronze medal match
In the bronze medal match Ricardo and Cunha played a lot more aggressive than Brink and Reckermann, who played their first World Tour event after missing the start of the season due to Reckermann’s shoulder injury. Brazil took a lead from 9-9 in the first set, Reckermann unable to pass Ricardo’s block at most occasions. The gap in the second set became even bigger. At 20-13 Brazil got their first match point, which was saved by the Germans. Right after they served out: 21-19 21-14.
The fifth consecutive Moscow Grand Slam was the first of three beach volleyball events this year in the Russian capital. At the end of June (22-24) the city hosts the CEV Continental Cup final for women, with one olympic ticket at stake. From June 29 to July 1 the FIVB World Cup Olympic Qualification – two olympic spots to be earned - is also held in Moscow.
Next on the World Tour calendar is the Rome Grand Slam (June 12-19), the last event to count for the olympic qualification ranking. The women, who finished in Moscow on Monday, already started in Italy.
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