Brazil at the 2013 Beach Tennis World Team Championship
Brazil remained calm in the face of strong home support to see off hosts Russia in the semifinals at the ITF Beach Tennis World Team Championship in Moscow.
The No. 2 seeds, led by former Fed Cup player Joana Cortez, secured an unassailable 2-0 advantage in an absorbing clash to set a repeat of last year’s final with Italy at Russia’s National Tennis Centre.
“It was very difficult playing against such strong home support and we just had to focus on each point as it came,” said Cortez. “We are delighted to be back in the final and hope to take the trophy back to Brazil tomorrow.”
Cortez and partner Samantha Barijan defeated Gulnara Fattakhetdinova and Natalia Timofeeva 61 62 in a gripping opening battle that was far more entrancing than the scoreline suggests. Hard fought rallies were played out across virtually every point, with most ending in nervous gasps or delighted cheers from the Russian-dominated crowd.
Nikita Burmakin and Igor Panin maximised their height and strength with powerful attacking play in the men’s doubles in an attempt to draw Russia level, but the Brazilians kept them in their sights and broke away at 4-4, winning the decisive deuce point in the following two games to claim the first set 64.
Brazil raced into a 3-0 lead in the second set but Russia soon pegged them back to 4-4. Vinicius Font of Brazil then served a strong game to put the pressure on the Burmakin serve, and seizing their opportunity Brazil confirmed its place in the final with a 64 64 triumph.
Russia was able to exact revenge in the dead mixed rubber, winning 42 41, but it was of little consolation to the hosts who will once again play for third place in the Championship.
Russian captain Sergei Kuptsov praised the crowd’s influence despite his side’s defeat.
“When you are representing your nation, it is a completely different experience and the crowd played a huge role,” he said. “Unfortunately today we were unable to overcome the strong Brazilian team and hope to secure third place on Sunday.”
In the other semifinal it was business as usual for defending champions Italy as they cruised past France for a place in the final. While only one of their victorious 2012 team returned this year, the Italians looked as strong as ever.
Federica Bachetta and Giulia Spazzoli overcame Magali Garnier and Julie Labrit 62 62 to put them ahead after the ladies doubles, before the Italian men returned the French attack with deadly precision to claim a ruthless 60 60 victory. The scoreline did little justice to the quality of the match but sends a clear message to Brazil that they have no intention of relinquishing their World Team Championship title.
In other ties, San Marino and Japan defeated Spain and Bulgaria respectively and will now meet in the fifth place playoff. Germany defeated Austria 2-1 with an enthralling three-set decisive mixed match ending 67(3) 62 [10-7] in Germany’s favour. Germany will now face Venezuela for ninth place after they overcame Switzerland 2-1.
Hungary and Cyprus will face each other in the 13th place play-off after beating Ukraine and Cyprus respectively while Belgium defeated Lithuania 3-0 to finish in 17th place. Estonia claimed the decisive mixed match 76(5) 61 to win the 19th place play-off against Great Britain 2-1.
Full match results, up to date draws and order of play can be found here.