What started months earlier as a historic Olympic bronze medal and first World Tour podium appearances, including some top finishes, eventually resulted in a current first Tour Ranking place for Latvia. Moscow might be a lucky place for the beach volleyball legend Emanuel Rego, who entered the central court today for his third straight final in the Russian capital, but we had different heroes as Smedins-Samoilovs won their second season event gold to come out as the allegedly best team this year.

A winner of the 2011 and 2012 Grand Slams in Moscow, Emanuel and his usual partner Alison split up prior to the Russian event in an attempt to try something different and probably restore his otherwise shaken confidence. Emanuel-Alison have had a fluctuating, so to say, season, having only won the World Cup at home in Campinas. This was the main motif for their female coach Leticia Pessoa to form two new partnerships, giving the recent Berlin Grand Slam’s winner Evandro Goncalves a chance to compete with his idol Emanuel, whereas Alison Cerutti paired up with the defender Vitor Felipe.

The tall Evandro was a bit overwhelmed after reaching his second final in a row, this time in Moscow. “I was not ready for any of these two finals, but I am happy I did it and especially with Emanuel. It’s a good feeling and a very emotional one.”

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The Brazilians needed three sets (16-21 21-17 15-12) in the first semifinal to overcome the pleasant surprise of the Grand Slam – the Austrians Alexander Horst and Lorenz Petutschnig. Petutschnig-Horst appeared on only their first tournament together and, much to their own surprise, made it to a fourth-place finish. The 20-year-old Lorenz Petutschnig, a bronze medalist at the recent U23 World Championship in Myslowice, came on in as a replacement for Clemens Doppler, who got injured during the domestic European Championship in Klagenfurt.

Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs prevented an eventual all-Brazilian final by knocking out another veteran, Ricardo Alex Costa Santos, and his partner Alvaro Filho in the later semifinal in two sets (21-14, 21-19).

A rainy atmosphere surrounded the stage for the final act of the week. To warm up the ones cheering on the stands, both Latvia and Brazil put on a great display. A series of great spikes by the 210-cm mastodon Evandro Goncalves and Janis Smedins, taking turns in entertaining the crowd, provided a more than pleasurable gold medal game. In the end Smedins-Samoilovs prevailed in straight sets (21-17 21-16).

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“It’s always fun to play someone who is taller than me’, Smedins said. “It’s like a challenge, I always want to win. I think we only made some service mistakes and one or two hits out. That’s all.”

The new World Tour leaders will enjoy some time to recharge their batteries as the calendar leaves off for the last stage of the season. Europe will no longer welcome the World Tour in 2013, which is quite understandable due to the approaching autumn here. In exactly a month’t time the Uganda Open in Kampala will gather the elite in a preparation for the decisive last two Grand Slams in Beijing, China, and Sao Paulo, Brazil, respectively. The exceptionally long year will wind up in the middle of December when the South African summer will be at its height for the last Open in Durban.

Pictures: FIVB