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Defending champions, gold favorites expected to meet in men's final
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Semifinals of the men's beach volleyball tournament will be held on Wednesday as U.S. gold favorites and Brazil's defending champions are expected to thrash their respective rivals at the Beijing Olympics.

Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser of the United States, widely believed to be serious candidate for the gold medal, are to take on Renato Gomes and Jorge Terceiro of Georgia.

The Georgian pair proved to be a dark horse by upseting the fifth-seeded Richard Schuil and Reinder Nummerdor of the Netherlands in the quarterfinal after claiming a 2-1 vicotry over Clemens Doppler and Peter Gartmayer of Austria in a round of 16 match.

With the quarterfinal win, the Georgian pair also made history for their country, which has never earned a berth in the top four of beach volleyball tournament at an Olympics.

But their dream of marching further in Beijing is facing serious hurdle in the semifinal.

The efficiency of the 2.06-meter Dalhausser at the net and the sophisticated defense of the two Americans have proved to be problems for almost all men's teams in the world.

Dalhausser was FIVB World Tour best blocker in 2006 and 2007 and best hitter in 2007 while his partner Rogers was best FIVB World Tour defensive player in 2006 and 2007. They are five-time FIVB World Tour gold medalists and in 2007 they won the FIVB World Championships.

With a 21-match winning streak this year, the U.S. duo entered the Beijing Olympics. They are also placed first on the Olympic qualification ranking.

The U.S. duo experienced setbacks in the preliminary round and round of 16 match as they sometimes had to come from behind to win a match but as the matches went on, the Americans have also been playing more solid.

They needed to play three sets to eliminate Martin Laciga and Jan Schnider of Switzerland but in the quarterfinal, they edged out powerful German duo David Klemperer and Eric Koreng in straight sets.

In another semifinal, Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos, the defending champions, will take on their compatriots Macio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes.

Rego declined to forecast who would be the finalist but said: "It's important to have one Brazilian team in the final."

But the defending champions, more experienced and solid than four years ago, thrashed five teams, most of them believed to be very strong, at the Beijing Olympics to enter top four. They have good reasons to down their compatriots and meet Rogers and Dalhausser in the final.

(Xinhua News Agency August 19, 2008)

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