Luca Carli and Michele Cappelletti (ITA)
TOKYO, JAPAN: Italian duo Luca Carli and Michele Cappelletti and French pairing Pauline Bourdet and Mathilde Hoarau took top honours at the Rakuten Japan Open on 4-6 October.
The ITF Grade 1 beach tennis event, which saw the top teams from around the world compete for the title and a $10,000 prize money pot, ran alongside the ATP 500 event of the same name in Tokyo.
French duo and No. 1 seeds Bourdet and Hoarau took the women’s title after securing a dominant 62 63 victory over Japanese pair Keiko Kamata and Mayumi Umeda.
It was an impressive achievement from the pair, who had seen off Japanese opponents in the first two rounds before coming through a fiercely contested semifinal against a third-seeded team who had already seen off the threat of former Grand Slam champion Natalia Zvereva and her former Fed Cup and Olympic partner Olga Barabanschikova.
The Japanese finalists, meanwhile, had come back from a set down in their previous two rounds to win match tie-breaks, including a shock semifinal win over second seed and defending champion Tomomi Takahashi and her French partner Manuel Amiard, but were unable to trouble the top seeds in the women’s showpiece match.
In the men’s event, Italians Carli and Cappelletti combined to defeat Brazilian pair Marcus Ferreira and Thales Santos, who had become the inaugural Pan American Champions just a few weeks earlier, and achieve a confidence-boosting tournament triumph.
In need of a title having finished runners-up at both the World and European Championships earlier this year and without a triumph to their names in the time since, the Italian pair motored through to the final, dropping just nine games en route.
In an added boost en route the pair saw off world No. 1 Alessandro Calbucci, who had been partly responsible for their defeats in both the World and European Championships.
Shrugging off Santos’ huge serve and Ferreira’s speed across the sand in the final, Carli and Cappelletti put their recent finals defeats behind them to take the title after a 63 62 win.