Russia defeated Christian Berardi/Willian Forcellini (pictured)
Fourth-seeded Russian duo Nikita Burmakin and Igor Panin came through a fiery clash against sixth-seeded Christian Berardi and Willian Forcellini of San Marino to book a place in Sunday’s semifinals at the European Beach Tennis Championships at Yellowave in Brighton.
A closely fought quarterfinal saw tournament referee Clare Wood called to court when Forcellini took exception to a line call, but Burmakin and Panin kept cool while the San Marino pair overheated alongside the British seafront to triumph 63 36 63 and seal a spot in the last four.
They will face top seeds Alessandro Calbucci and Marco Garavini for a place in the final after the Italians duo conquered eighth-seeded French pairing Romain Bourse and Olivier Samaran 61 76(3) in blustery conditions that routinely played wicked tricks on the ball.
“I’ve very happy to reach the semifinals,” said world No. 1 Garavini through a translator. “It was a very hard day today in these conditions. The ball moves and stays low in the wind and that changes everything.
“Tomorrow is going to be even windier than today so even more difficult and our opponents will be stronger in those conditions.”
Garavini, who won the men’s doubles and mixed doubles events at last year’s European Championships when it was held in Borgo Maggiore, San Marino, added that he was delighted to be defending his crown at this year's new venue in Brighton.
“Brighton is a nice town,” he said. “It’s the first time that I’ve been here but my partner (Calbucci) studied Psychology here for four months.”
Italy’s No. 2 pairing Michele Cappelletti and Luca Carli also moved through to the semifinals despite suffering a scare against No. 14 seeds Petros Baghdatis and Christopher Koutrouzas of Cyprus.
Baghdatis, a former Davis Cup player and brother of ATP Tour star Marcos, came within three points of causing a major upset alongside Koutrouzas in the third round, ultimately losing a fiercely contested bout 67(2) 63 10-7.
“It was a great match,” said Baghdatis. “We were only separated by three points but we showed today that the Italians are only humans. Three points away from victory is not a bad achievement. We played good. Everybody was cheering for us because they want to see someone beat them I guess. We got a lot of respect today.”
Cappelletti and Carli will play No. 3 seeds Patrice Bang and Pascal Herve in the last four after the French pairing saw off No. 7 seeds Martin Schmidt and Stefan Weber of Austria 61 64 in the quarterfinals.
It was a similar story of Italian rule in the women’s doubles event as No. 1 pairing Eva D’Elia and Giulia Curzi and No. 2 seeds Flamina Daina and Michaela Zanaboni both moved through to the semifinals without dropping a set.
The top seeds play German third seeds Dorothee Berreth and Carina Blank, while Daina and Zanaboni face San Marino’s Alice Grandi and Camilla Zafferani in the final four after bypassing Russia’s Gulnara Fattakhetdinova and Natalia Stepanova.