Photo: Lilyana VinogradovaBrazilian fans at World Team Championship 2014
“Too close” was how the Brazil captain Guilherme Prata described his team’s quarterfinal win against Spain in the ITF Beach Tennis World Team Championship on another warm and sunny day in Moscow – perfect beach weather, in fact.
Fortunately for the competitors the delightful wooded setting at the National Tennis Centre helps lop a few degrees off, but temperatures on court were still running high at times as the competition moved towards its climax.
Brazil, the defending champions, was hoping for a slightly easier passage through to the semifinals, but Spain was in no mood to oblige and stunned the Brazilian fans in the women’s doubles, thanks to Maria Pilar Escandell and Maria Rosa Sitja monumental effort.
The match eventually went to the third and final set of the mixed doubles when the greater experience – or “heart”, according to the Brazil captain – of Vinicius Font and Joana Cortez saw them home as they came from behind to win 3-6 6-3 6-3 against Antonio Ramos Veira and Sitja. The Brazilians were even 2-0 down in the final set.
“We were not expecting the result in the women’s side,” said Prata. “Our team is very good and they had their problems today, but in the end we came through.”
Indeed they did, to set up a much anticipated semifinal against their World Cup tormentors Germany, who beat the No. 4 seeds Japan in another match that went the distance.
Prata was indebted to the support his team received, which at times was enough to make one question who the host nation actually is. As it was, the Russian hosts scored a notable victory of their own, knocking out the No. 3 seeds Venezuela in a hotly contested match that was never hotter than in the women’s doubles.
The Russian women, Ekaterina Kirgizova and Gulnara Fattakhetdinova, play a steady eddy game that proved very effective in the circumstances. In contrast, their men’s team of Nikita Burmakin and Sergey Kuptsov are big hitters who just might cause Italy some problems in the other semifinal. Italy, who are most people’s favourites, had a comfortable 3-0 win Portugal.