Gstaad, Switzerland, July 7, 2012—Getting into their groves on a sunshine-filled day in Swiss Alps after country quota playoff matches, qualification tournament, the main draw pool play and then three rounds of the single-elimination bracket phase, four rugged men’s beach volleyball teams have survived the challenge Saturday to earn spots in Sunday’s semifinals and medal matches 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.
QUARTERFINAL WINNERSWorking diligently to keep moving forward in the 1to1 energy Grand Slam, winning Saturday’s late-afternoon quarterfinal matches held under ‘chamber of commerce’ blue skies, moderate temperatures and blazing sunshine were USA’s top-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers, Brazil’s second-seeded Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego, USA’s third-seeded Jake Gibb/Sean Rosenthal and Italy’s 13th-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai.
BIG PURSE IN GSTAADThe fifth of eight FIVB SWATCH World Tour grand slam events, 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.
SUNDAY SEMIFINAL SHOWDOWNSOn Sunday, the men’s semifinals start late morning and continuing through the internationally-televised medal matches in the late afternoon, the matchups will have four teams bound for Great Britain in a few weeks for the London 2012 Olympic Games. In the first semifinal, Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel will meet Italy’s Lupo/Nicolai while the second will pit an all-American battle between USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers and USA’s Gibb/Rosenthal.
QUARTERFINAL BREAKDOWNIn Saturday’s first two quarterfinal matches Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel came out smoking and did look back in defeating USA’s seventh-seeded Matt Fuerbringer/Nick Lucena, 21-9, 21-19 in 37 minutes and Italy’s Lupo/Nicolai upset Brazil’s sixth-seeded Benjamin Insfran/Bruno Oscar Schmidt
In the last two quarterfinals, USA’s Gibb/Rosenthal knocked off Brazil’s 23rd-seeded country quota, qualification tournament survivors Rhooney Ferramenta/Thiago Santos Barbosa, 21-17, 21-16 in 38 minutes and as the sun was lingering just over the tops of the Swiss Alps and shadows were covering much of the packed stadium, USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers eliminated Brazil’s fifth-seeded Pedro Cunha/Ricardo Santos in a tough, three-set match, 21-18, 30-32 and 15-10 in 74 minutes. The second set score (32-30) and the length of the match were both highs for the tournament.
The losers in the quarterfinals all finish in fifth place in the 1to1 energy Grand Slam and leave Switzerland with $13,200 in prize money per team.
ALWAYS QUOTABLEAfter defeating USA’s Fuerbringer/Lucena, Emanuel said, “We had sensational play on this sunny day. In the first set, Alison did a very good job blocking, so we had a perfect set. The second set was a little bit closer because the Americans changed their strategy and it helped them keep in close to the end. The people here in Gstaad are sensational. We want to win our semifinal, and then anything is possible regarding a possible repeat as champions here in Switzerland.”
USA’s Dalhausser and Rogers were both very talkative following their three-set win over Brazil’s Cunha/Ricardo in three sets in the final center court match of the day.
Rogers spoke first, saying, “We lost the second set in a very tough way, with the referee calling a double touch on Phil. That is was a very tough way to end a marathon set but we rallied in the tiebreaker, kept the pressure on, cut down on mistakes and got the victory.”
Dalhausser, who was born in Switzerland, spoke about his history and tomorrow’s semifinal against another American team, stating, “This tournament is one of my favorites. First of all because it is such a nice area, the mountains and the people are so nice here. I especially love the local food, in particular, ‘Birchermusli’ (sort of yogurt with fruits and cereals in it) – I grew up with this stuff, so a lot of memories come back when I am here about my first years as a child here in Switzerland.”
In regards to tomorrow’s semifinal, Dalhausser said, “Tomorrow we will have a very, very tough match against Jake and Sean. They are very strong and want to knock us off of being No. 1 in the USA. We need to have a very solid, steady, good performance to beat them tomorrow. We have played them a lot, won a lot of matches against them, but almost all were very close from start to finish.”
SEMIFINAL PREVIEWSPreviewing Sunday’s semifinals, the first will see Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel meeting Italy’s Lupo/Nicolai. In the second semifinal, it will be the all-USA matchup of Dalhausser/Rogers against Gibb Rosenthal.
Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel, who are in their 30th FIVB SWATCH World Tour event together with 20 final four appearances and are the defending champions in Gstaad, and Italy’s Lupo/Nicolai, who have played 14 world tour events together and this is their third final four appearance. The two teams have met six times and Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel have a 5-1 series edge.
In the all-American semifinal, USA’s two-time Gstaad champions Dalhausser/Rogers are in their 54th FIVB SWATCH World Tour event together and have earned their 42nd final four appearance, while USA’s Gibb/Rosenthal are in their 59th world tour event together and this is their 12th final four appearance. In the series between these two teams that know each other so well, Dalhausser/Rogers have a 14-5 advantage on the world tour and 47-12 overall counting domestic tours in the USA. Two of the last three times they met were in gold medal matches, both were won by Dalhausser/Rogers and both lasted over an hour and went three sets before a winner was decided. The meetings were last year in Quebec City, Canada and this year in Shanghai, China.
ROUND OF 16 UPSETSThe only seed breakthrough among the round of 16 matches Saturday saw Brazil’s 23rd-seeded Ferramenta/Thiago Santos Barbosa upset Germany’s 19th-seeded David Klemperer/Eric Koreng in three sets, 21-17, 17-21 and 15-11 in 56 minutes. It was one of only two three set matches and the second-longest match of the entire round of 16 battles.
In the other round of 16 three-setter, Brazil’s Cunha/Ricardo disappointed the pro-Swiss packed Gstaad stadium center court by coming from behind to defeat Switzerland’s 10th-seeded Jefferson Bellaguarda/Patrick Heuscher, 19-21, 21-17 and 15-10 in 57 minutes, the longest match of the round.
In Saturday’s round of 16, the losing teams received ninth place finishes and each team will leave Gstaad with $8,000 in prize money.
FIVB SWATCH WORLD TOUR CALENDARThe 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.
NEXT STOP: BERLINAfter 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.