BURGAS, BULGARIA: There was a massive upset on the second day of the World Championships as the world number ones, and top seeded team, exited the competition, with other seeds not far behind.
Enjoying their first week as the number one ranked players in the ITF Beach Tennis World Rankings, Michele Cappelletti and Luca Carli had high hopes finishing the week as World Champions. But there was strong opposition ahead of them.
Alex Mingozzi, having lost his regular partner Matteo Marighella to injury, had teamed up with Marco Faccini and was looking as dangerous as ever. Crowds couldn’t draw themselves away as the biggest match of the day, and tournament so far, developed.
Despite finding themselves 4-2 down in the first set, the first set went according to plan for the top seeds Carli and Cappelletti losing just 3 points to regain control at 5-4 before taking the deciding point at deuce to break the Faccini serve and claim the set 64.
But, as former world number one and former European Champion Marighella had experience on his side, not to mention an in form Marco Faccini. Once again securing an early break of the Carli serve, they took a 3-1 lead.
However, full of confidence the top seeds fought back and found themselves 5-4 up facing the Mingozzi serve to win the match. At 40-30 a long rally ensued as they draw level at deuce. Game point for Mingozzi and match point for the top seeds, you could feel the tension in the crowd.
A massive serve from Migozzi though, and they kept the match alive. Both teams held their next two service games to take the set to a tie break as they approached the two hour mark.
Despite acrobatic diving and incredible defensive work the seeds saw the set slip away 67(4). One set all and the crowd on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the third set.
Once again, the first team to break the deadlock, Mingozzi and Faccini broke the Cappelletti serve for a 4-2 lead only to see Faccini’s serve immediately broken and the score finally levelled by a strong Carli service game. 4-4 in the third.
The drama was far from over as the Mingozzi serve once again found itself under pressure at deuce. Desperate to get the break, Carli and Cappelletti attacked the ball but were met with impenetrable defence as Mingozzi held for a 5-4 lead.
As the match entered its fourth hour Luca Carli found himself trailing 5-4 with only his service game standing between a tie break or defeat. Perhaps it was the pressure, perhaps exhaustion as the sun blazed overhead or perhaps the credit must simply be attributed to the determination and ability of his opponents but the world number one saw his serve broken to love as his Championships dream came to an end. Final score 46 76(4) 75 to Mingozzi and Faccini.
Over on court 4 the eighth seeds Paolo Tronci and Maurizio Di Cori found themselves in a three set battle against fellow Italians Matteo Catalano and Marco Guercio.
Having lost the first set 62, the seeds bounced back to draw level with a 75 victory in the second. Hearing the news from court two of the shock exit of the top seeds, Di Cori and Tronci knew that nothing coulr be taken for granted at the World Championships.
Despite recovering from a service break in the opening game of the set, Di Cori was unable to produce the goods at 4-4 when the deciding deuce went in favour of the underdogs.
They only needed one chance on the Guercio serve as he led them through to the quarterfinals 62 57 64.
On Centre Court the Japanese team Kotaro Aizawa and Naoaki Yamamoto were looking to add further upset to the day as they faced defending World Champions Alessandro Calbucci and Luca Meliconi.
But it was not to be as the defending champions took no chances and raced to a 60 win in the first set.
Fighting back in the second, the Japanese team showed signs of world class but unfortunately they were not enough to trouble the Italians. With Meliconi losing just three points against serve, the second seeded Italians moved comfortably into the quarterfinals 60 63.
It had been a dangerous day to be a seed as the Italians Michele Folegatti and Massimo Mattei, seeded sixth, were about to find out. Getting off to a poor start, they lost the first set 62.
Their opponents, Simone Omiccioli and Stefano Speranzini took their foot off the pedal though in the second allowing the seeds to win 5 straight games and take the second set 63.
Realising that a World Championship title was at stake, the third set saw both teams taking no chances with strong attacking play and quick reflexes keeping points alive far longer than would have been though possible.
In the end though, it was the seeds who lost out as deciding point deuce went against the Folegatti serve securing a quarterfinal place for Omiccioli and Speranzini. 62 36 64.
After their gruelling three set and three hour match on day one, the Brazilians were back as Guilherme Prata and Vinicius Chaparro took on former World Champion Marco Ludovici and his teammate Fabrizio Avantaggiato.
Both teams looked unstoppable in the first set with long rallies seeing all four players covered in sweat and sand as they fought to take the lead.
The first set point came for the Brazilians as the found themselves 5-4 40-15 up against the Ludovici serve. Unable to take any of the three set points, Ludovici managed to keep the set alive.
Inevitably the set required a tie break, which soon saw both teams level pegging to 5-5. Holding his nerve Ludovici gave his team their first set point at 6-5. Facing the Chaparro serve, the Italians attacked the ball and were rewarded with the first set 76(5).
At 3-2 and a break up in the second, the spectators were settling in for another three set match as the Brazilians, on excellent form, were parrying all the attacks the Italians threw at them.
But it was short lived. Losing the Prata serve to love, the break was immediately taken away from them.
Failing to capitalise on a 40-15 lead against the Avantaggiato serve, the Brazilians went on to lose the deciding point on the Chaparro serve to find themselves trailing 5-3.
With one of the fastest serves in the game, Ludovici stepped up to the line to serve out the match to love and knocking the Brazilians out of the Championship. 76(5) 63.
Elsewhere Italians continued to dominate proceedings as Luca Rosatone and Giulio Pretucci saw off the Bulgarians Ivailo Bojilov and Petar Kirilov 61 62 with Rosatone losing just one point against his serve.
Third seeds Marco Garavini (Italy) and Paolo Tazzari (Italy) put on another impressive performance losing just one game in their victory over the Czech Republic team of Lukas Mrnavy and Pavel Radek. 61 60.
It was an all Italian affair on court two as Alan Maldini continued his attempt to regain his World Championship title with partner Luca Cramarossa taking on Luigi Mazzarone and Luca Petrini.
A one-sided affair saw the former World Champion and his teammate cruised into the quarterfinals 61 61.