Photo: Edvard Kozusnik2012 Beach Tennis World Championships - Day 2
BURGAS, BULGARIA: Quarterfinals day at the World Championships and things were hotting up. With Brazilians, Russians, French, Italian and Japanese players all still in with a chance of claiming the title, the pressure was on to make it through to finals day.
Starting off proceedings on centre court were the defending champions Simona Briganti (Italy) and Laura Olivieri (Italy). Having enjoyed an impeccable season on the Beach Tennis Tour, they had brought their form to Burgas, conceding just one game in their previous match.
Their opponents were the Russian team of Irina Bulykina and Gulnara Fattakhetdinova. The teams had never met on court before but the Italians knew they should not underestimate the Russians who had reached the semifinals in the European Champions 2011.
The Italians came out strong immediately breaking the Bulykina serve. the Russians responded by taking the Briganti serve to deuce but were unable to win the decisive point and allowed the Italians to extend their lead.
Before they knew it, it was 4-0 and the Russians needed to get on the scoreboard fast to stay in the set. A decisive love service game by Bulykina did just that but it was too little too late as the Italians closed off the set 61.
In the second set it was the Russians who opened with a break claiming the decisive deuce point against the Olivieri serve. But the lead was short lived as the world number ones responded with two love games to put them back in control before breaking the Bulykina serve for a 3-1 lead.
It was all or nothing for the Russians who threw caution to the wind attacking the ball at every opportunity. The change in pace and tactic had the desired effect as the advantage swung back to the Russian team 4-3.
Regrouping at the change of ends, the Italians responded to the change in tactics with their own attacking play and broke the Bulykina serve once again before closing out the set and securing themselves a place in the semifinals, 61 64.
Elsewhere it was the Brazilians who were attempting to put an end to Italian dominance as Joana Cortez (Brazil) and Samantha Barijan (Brazil) took on Sofia Cimatti (Italy) and Veronica Visani (Italy). The Brazilians, seeded fourth, were the favourites against the sixth seeds, but neither team could break the deadlock in first six games 3-3.
A costly lapse in concentration for the Brazilians and the Barijan serve went in favour of their opponents. Capitalising on their gift, the Italians followed the break winning two impeccable games to love and taking the first set 63.
It was much the same story in the second set with a couple of breaks early on but neither team looking decisive until 4-4. Refusing to be taken to a third set, the Italians broke the Cortez serve to seal victory 63, 64.
The Japanese ladies were the next victims of Italian strength as Yukiko Nakamura and Tomomi Takahashi, the seventh seeds, faced the number two seeds Simona Bonadona (Italy) and Eva D’Elia (Italy).
The first set was comfortable for the number two seeds as they took just over 15 minutes to take the set 61. Fighting back the in second, the Japanese were looking strong at 2-2 but losing the decisive point at deuce on the Nakamura serve gave the upper hand back to their opponents who capitalised by taking a 5-2 lead.
Despite responding with a break of the Bonadonna serve, the task proved too great for the Japanese whose World Championship journey ended in the quarterfinals 61 63.
The last quarter final featured three Italians and one French lady as Julie Labrit (France) teamed up with Silvia Zanuttini (Italy) as the fifth seeds, to take on the in form Federica Bacchetta (Italy) and Giulia Spazzoli (Italy) seeded third.
A poor start for the French/Italian combination who didn’t see a game point until the fifth game. Unable to take their opportunity, the all Italian team claimed the set 60.
A regroup at the start of the second and the underdogs came out on top with an immediate break of the Bacchetta serve. But this merely set a trend of six consecutive breaks to leave the set level at 3-3. The first player to hold serve in the second set was Giulia Spazzoli giving a 4-3 lead.
The fifth seeds had no response to the relentless attacks and impenetrable defensive play of the their opponents who came back from 15-40 on the Bacchetta serve to take the match point on the deuce 60 63.
An all Italian semifinal line up for the final day of the Championships.