Cunha and Ricardo continue strong start to 2012 with two wins in Rome
The Brazilian pair have already won two golds and two bronze medals on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour this year. They quickly showed their determination to add to that tally in the Italian capital, having won bronze at the Moscow Grand Slam earlier this week.
“We have had a very tiring week and I think we did enough today,” Cunho said. “I hope that we can start to get our confidence back as the tournament goes along. Ricardo has a lot of good memories of when he played here last year from when he won silver (at the FIVB World Championships).”
First off they defeated the Danish side of Bo Soderberg and Anders Lund Hoyer, then followed that up with a win over Sweden’s Hannes Brinkborg and Stefan Gunnarsson, who made life difficult throughout the two-set victory.
“We made some mistakes and they took advantage of them,” Cunha continued. “They are two big guys, they pushed us hard and almost did it, but we did what we had to do today.”
Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann, the team Cunha and Ricardo beat to win bronze in Moscow, continued their return to form after missing the start of the season due to Reckermann suffering a shoulder injury.
They began the day with a 19-21, 21-17, 15-9 win against Russia’s Yaroslav Koshkarev and Konstantin Semenov, and then beat New Zealand’s Jason Lochhead and Kirk Pitman, 21-15, 21-15.
“We had a short break from Moscow and the match we had broke our rhythm a bit, but
we are happy with our two wins today,” Brink said.
The 2009 FIVB world champions have had a slow start to 2012. Reckermann’s injury meant they didn’t return to competitive action until the European Championships in which they won gold and then followed that result up with fourth place in Moscow.
“Jonas was injured at the start of the season and we didn’t want to risk anything for London,” Brink continued. “That is why we took a longer break, but Jonas has recovered now. We are getting tired and everyone else is getting tired, but we just had to get over the first day and now we have a good chance.”
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 will leave with a prize of $43,000. Both the women’s and men’s finals take place on Sunday, June 17.
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