VInicius Font and Guilherme Prata (BRA) celebrate at the 2013 Beach Tennis World Team Championship
The crowds at Russia’s National Tennis Centre in Moscow were treated to a display of the highest calibre in the final of the 2013 ITF Beach Tennis World Team Championship as a highly talented Brazilian team avenged their defeat to favourites Italy in last year’s final.
With the ladies doubles tie going to the second seeds and the men’s doubles swinging the way of Italy, Brazil ultimately triumphed in the deciding mixed rubber to knock Italy off its perch as the world’s No. 1 beach tennis nation.
“Today was a day for the underdog,” beamed Brazil’s Vinicius Font after helping the second seeds to victory. “This is a big step for beach tennis in Brazil and for the sport as a whole. Italy have long dominated beach tennis and will no doubt continue to be the major force for the coming years but Brazil’s victory here today shows that the gap has been closed.”
Samantha Barijan and Joana Cortez gave the second seeds the perfect start by defeating Federica Bacchetta and Giulia Spazzoli of Italy 64 63. Cortez is one of Brazil's most successful Fed Cup players with a 23-14 win-loss record.
The Italians looked in trouble from the outset and soon found themselves facing set point at deuce while trailing 5-3. A nervous point by Italy saw both players leave a high lob only for it to drop inside the line for 5-4 but Brazil, refusing to let their opponents back in to proceedings, broke the Spazzoli serve to take the set.
Cortez served a love game to start the second set and soon extended the lead to 4-2. A nervous moment for both sides as Barijan served at deciding point deuce ended in relief for Brazil as they took a 5-2 advantage.
The deficit was too great for the Italian ladies who could not break the Cortez serve and would have to rely on the joint-world No. 1 men Alessandro Calbucci and Marco Garavini to level proceedings.
The pair had been an impenetrable force throughout the championship and continued that form in the final as they raced past Vinicius Font and Guilherme Prata 60. A love service game for Font to open the second set got the Brazilian team on the board but they were unable to force a comeback as the Italians drew the tie level with a 60 62 win.
The fate of the world team championship would be decided in the deciding mixed match. With Federica Bacchetta still recovering from injury, the Italians were forced to adjust their preferred mixed combination and played Giulia Spazzoli with Marco Garavini.
Quick to exploit this new partnership, Brazil took the opening set 63. The Italian bench remained calm but Spazzoli and Garavini were unable to come up with an answer to the Brazilian’s determined and relentless play as they stormed through the set 60 to become the new World Champions.
Italian captain Luca Bidolli expressed his disappointment at losing the final but congratulated Brazil on their feat.
“The injury to Bacchetta added an extra challenge for us and we have paid the ultimate price in the final,” said Bidolli. “Brazil played an excellent competition and it is great for the sport to have a new winner. We may need to consider bringing reserve players in future years and hope to regain the title in 2014.”
Host nation Russia won the third place play-off after defeating France in rainy conditions. The French ladies gave their nation the lead in the first match but they were forced into a decisive mixed match as the men were unable to overcome the dominant hosts.
Russia were able to exact revenge on France for their previous encounter as they won the match 62 63 to give Russia third place and a spot on the podium.
“The Russian team have improved a great deal over the past year and have a very strong team,” said captain Sergei Kuptsov. “Next year we hope to challenge for the world championship title.”
Watch the video summary by Russian RT Sport News
5) San Marino
20) Great Britain