Photo: ITF Beach TennisBeach Tennis - World Team Championship 2013 - Switzerland v Japan
Defending champion Italy shrugged off an early injury scare to complete a come-from-behind victory over Ukraine on the opening day of the 2013 ITF Beach Tennis World Team Championship in Moscow on Thursday.
The Italian team, who won the inaugural event in Moscow in 2012, were dealt an early blow in their opening clash when an injury to Federica Bacchetta in the ladies’ doubles forced the top seed to hand Ukraine a 1-0 lead.
The Italian men, joint-world No. 1 team Alessandro Calbucci and Marco Garavini, kept cool heads to calmly draw the tie level at 1-1 with a 61 61 victory over Ukraine’s Stanislav Agapov and Vladislav Presnyakov, before Giulia Spazzoli and Marco Garavini sealed the victory by defeating Agapov and Iryna Matiychuyk 60 62 in the decisive mixed.
After the drama of the opening rubber, Italy captain Luca Bidolli admitted it had been a tough opening test for his side.
“It is not easy to start a tie 1-0 down and we hope that her [Bacchetta] condition will improve for her to compete in the later stages of the event,” he said. “We hope to be able to defend our title but are aware of the big challenges ahead.”
Italy was one of seven teams to progress to the quarterfinals having played second round clashes on the opening day of the competition after receiving a first round bye. Spain was the only nation to reach the quarterfinals by winning two matches after defeating Estonia 3-0 in the first round and No. 8 seed Austria 2-1 in the second.
Second seeds Brazil, third-seeds Japan, fourth-seeds Hungary and seventh-seeded Russia joined Italy in securing 3-0 second round wins on the opening day, while fifth-seeded Bulgaria defeated a Cyprus side containing former Davis Cup player Petro Baghdatis 2-1 after electing not to contest the dead third rubber.
San Marino, meanwhile, caused the major upset of the day after recovering from 1-0 down to defeat sixth-seeded Germany. Former Davis Cup player William Forcellini made the difference for San Marino, winning both the men's doubles alongside Christian Berardi and the mixed doubles with Alice Grandi to guide San Marino into the quarterfinals.
Along with Belgium, Estonia and Lithuania, Great Britian was amongst four first round losers on Thursday, going down 3-0 to Switzerland (who ultimately lost to 3rd seeds Japan in round two), but captain Gary Thompson was keen to find the positives in defeat.
“Despite a disappointing result, for our first real test on a world stage we are pleased with our performance,” said the British captain. “We are looking forward to our remaining ties.”
Full match results, scores and up to date draws and order of play, can be found here.