Photo: ITF Beach TennisWorld Team Championship - Russian women's moment of victory over Japan
The Russian ladies kept the home crowd on the edge of their seats as an enthralling quarterfinal match developed against third seeds Japan at the ITF Beach Tennis World Championship at the National Tennis Centre in Moscow.
Japan's Tomomi Takahashi and Kaori Yanase showed their class to take the first set 62. Spurred by the strong home support, Gulnara Fattakhetdinova and Natalia Timofeeva came out fighting in the second to draw level at 26 63 before finding themselves with match points in the third set at 5-3 and 5-4. Unable to convert, the match went into a tiebreak which was not without its own drama.
Leading 5-3 Yanase stretched to reach a deft Russian lob but fell to the sand and was forced to call a doctor to court. The momentum swung back in Russia’s favour as they took a 6-5 lead finally claiming the match 26 63 76(6).
The Russian men left nothing to chance however as they booked their nation a place in the semifinals with a 62 62 win before the mixed team completed the tie 3-0 with a 41 40 win.
"We are very disappointed to lose this tie and if we had managed to win the ladies’ match it could have been a very different result," said Japanese captain Takaki Sugita. "We have shown that Japan can compete at the very top level and hope to progress further in this Championship next year."
In the top half of the draw defending champions Italy were in action against event debutants Spain. Having seen off eighth seeds Austria in the previous round Spain were on great form but with Federica Bacchetta back from injury for Italy, the Spanish ladies could do little to overcome their opponents.
The Spanish ladies fell 62 62 before the Italian men wrapped up the tie 63 61. The mixed was abandoned at 42 3-0 in Italy’s favour due to the poor weather conditions. Speaking after the tie, Spanish captain Jose Maria Piza said he was pleased with his team’s performance.
"We are very pleased to have reached the quarterfinals and our team has put up a good fight against the best players in the world," he said. "We will now look ahead to our tie against San Marino tomorrow."
Fourth seeds France took on San Marino in a closely fought battle. The French team made hard work for themselves going one set down in both the men’s and the ladies’ matches. In both cases they were able to fight their way back with the ladies eventually winning 46 75 62 while the men triumphed 36 75 62.
There was little surprise that the mixed went the distance but France kept a clean sweep 14 53 53. France will meet Italy in the semifinals.
"We knew this tie would be tough coming into it and we had to keep our focus to come out on top. Tomorrow we will have an even bigger challenge against the Italians," said French captain Patrice Bang.
In the bottom half of the draw second seeds Brazil continued their impressive run defeating Bulgaria 62 62 in the ladies before the men’s relentless attacking style sealed the tie 63
64. Brazil will play hosts Russia in the semifinals.
The losing teams from the quarterfinals will now face each other to compete for positions five to eight, while Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Venezuela’s victories mean they will compete for positions nine to 12. Belgium and Lithuania’s victories will see them battle for 17th place tomorrow.
Full match results, scores and up to date draws and order of play, can be found here.