Jacob Gibb and Casey Patterson won the first Grand Slam of the year in a match against Pedro Salgado and Bruno Oscar Schmidt from Brazil. The bronze medals in Shanghai were also grabbed by Brazilians as Ricardo Alex Costa Santos and Alvaro Filho made up to their fans for the fourth place in Fuzhou last week by snatching the last podium place.
Following the success of their compatriots Rosenthal-Dalhausser a week earlier in the season opener, the newly formed American duo Gibb-Patterson showed a great composure throughout the first week of games to be counted for the World Tour ranking and finished the Grand Slam with a perfect record of seven straight wins. The final saw many ups and downs, starting in the right direction for the yankees (21-16), but only to to be followed by a devastating 9-21 second set in favour of Pedro-Bruno. The tie-break, however, was another story and it was again Americans to win on Chinese shores after a 15-9 decider.
Even if the winners were different in comparison to the Fuzhou Open, Gibb-Patterson extended the American dominance at World Tour first events in recent years. Experts predicted a second win in a row for Rosenthal-Dalhausser due to a nearly perfect performance last weekend, but the gold medals remained in US hands nevertheless. Jacobs Gibb might have enjoyed a great season in 2012 when he partner Sean Rosenthal won several important tournaments and eventually grabbed the World Tour title, but it was a special moment in Shanghai for his 33-year-old partner Casey Patterson who won a Tour medal for the first time. His best result so far was two ninth places with former partner Bradley Keenan back in 2011 and another ninth position with Gibb in their first event together, so you can imagine the joy the ex-indoor player felt when stepping on the medal platform.
Ricardo-Alvaro appear to be the kryptonite for Rosenthal-Dalhausser as the Brazilians got their revenge this week and knocked out the powerful Americans in another classical three-set battle that lasted almost an hour (21-19, 19-21, 15-13). Unfortunately, the legend Ricardo and his young left-handed compatriot (only 22 years of age) lost an epic semifinal to countrymen Pedro-Bruno to eventually prevail over Polish future stars Michal Kadziola (23) and Jakub Szalankiewicz (24) in two fast sets (21-12, 21-10). Thus, they took a first pair of medals in 2013 in the second time of asking.
The Tour will resume in exactly three weeks in South America. The river banks of the Argentinian city Corrientes will make their international beach volley debut for another Grand Slam event. Given enough time to travel between continents and to heal injuries, including those causing some participation cancellations, all the beach volleyball stardom is expected in Argentina.