Photo: Edvard Kozusnik2012 Beach Tennis World Championships - Day 1
As the sun rose on Burgas beach, beach tennis players from around the world began to descend for a final practice before the fourth edition of the World Championships got underway.
Following the draw on the previous evening, there were to be some exciting battles as the day progressed. Spectators did not have long to wait. First on were the Brazilian men Vinicius Chaparro and Guilherme Prata taking on the former Sammarinese Davis Cup by BNP Paribas player William Forcellini and compatriot Christian Berardi.
Both strong teams with high expectations for the Championships, it came as no surprise that an epic three setter developed. Having fought back from 3-1 down to a 4-3 lead in the first, only to lose the set on a tie break, the Brazilians were not going to make the same mistake in the second.
Seeing a 4-2 lead reduced to 4-4, they threw caution to the wind as their attacking play won them four straight points against the Forcellini serve to leave Chaparro to serve out the set and draw level at one set all.
Despite strong serving from both teams, no points could be taken for granted in the third set as the match proceeded into its third hour. At 3-3 there seemed to be nothing to separate the two teams, both desperate to proceed to day 2 and avoid the consolation event. But it was on Forcellini’s serve once again that the Brazilian’s decided to make their move.
In an action replay of the second set, they stormed to a 4-3 lead winning four consecutive points against serve. As spectators continued to gather, fans could hardly watch as the following game progressed to deuce – deciding point!
A big serve from Chaparro kept the break of serve at 5-3 and Prata managed to serve out the match to take the third set 64 and see an exhausted but exuberant Brazilian team move into the second round.
Elsewhere in the men’s draw it was business as usual for the number one seeds Michele Cappelletti and Luca Carli as they dispatched of the French team of Yankell Clavery and Francois Jouque. Despite trailing 3-0 in the first set, they looked on top form as they came back to take the match 64 61.
Current World Championships Alessandro Calbucci and Luca Meliconi saw off the Russian Wild Card Elexeyev Kravtsov and Alexander Stakheev 62 75 as they began the defence of their title.
Lukas Mrnavy and Pavel Radek from the Czech Republic enjoyed a convincing win against the Bulgarian team of Mario Iliev and Stanslav Tabov 62 60 while the top ranked Russian entry Igor Panin and Svyatoslav Tektov lost 64 62 to sixth seeds Michele Folegatti and Massimo Mattei from Italy.
The hosts, Bulgaria, had success on Centre Court in the form of Ivailo Bojilov and Petar Kirilov as they came back from 4-0 behind in the first set to secure victory in straight sets 64 63. Their compatriots were not as fortunate however.
The Japanese team Kotaro Aizawa and Naoaki Yamamoto left nothing to chance as they stormed to victory 62 60 against the Bulgarian team Dimitar Simeonov and Yanaki Yanakiev on Court 2. Looking on excellent form, their second round match against reigning champions Calbucci and Meliconi looks set to be a thrilling encounter for Centre Court.
The Mexican and French combination of Carlos Rodriguez (MEX) and Nicolas Audier (FRA) had their party crashed early on as the fifth seeds Giulio Petrucci and Luca Rosatone from Italy took control early on to win 61 63.
Having won the World Championships in 2010, Alan Maldini still had the touch of a champion as he and Luca Cramarossa defeated fellow Italians Raffaele Benini and Niccolo Strano 63 62. Will he meet his former Championship winning partner, Luca Meliconi in the semi finals?
See the full men's draw below.