Alex Mingozzi (ITA) and Vinicius Font (BRA)
COSTA DO SAUIPE, BRAZIL: The final event of 2013 in Mata de Sao Joao, Brazil saw victories for Vinicius Font and Alex Mingozzi in the men’s final and Eva D’Elia and Patricia Diaz in the women’s final.
Both finals were closely contested in this Grade 1 event on the South American continent and featured the top two seeded teams.
The pairing of Font and Mingozzi brought together two of the current top 10 ranked players from Brazil and Italy respectively, arguably the two powerhouse nations of the sport, and the duo claimed their second 2013 title together following on from their success in September’s Grade 1 event held at Hermosa Beach, CA, USA.
The 17-team draw was dominated by all-Brazilian partnerships with the exception of the Font and Mingozzi combination and Mingozzi’s compatriots Maurizio Di Cori and Paolo Tronci who advanced as far as the semifinals.
Font and Mingozzi did not see any on court action until the quarterfinal due to a first round bye followed by the withdrawal of their scheduled second round opponents.
In the last eight they saw off the tournament’s fifth seeds, Vinicius Chaparro and Guilherme Prata, 62 64 before easing into the final with a comfortable 62 61 defeat of Ralf Abreu and Luis Pedreira who had been seeded sixth.
In contrast, their final opponents, Marcus Ferreira and Thales Santos, had a tougher time moving through the draw despite their second seed billing.
Ferreira and Santos, who were the title winners at the inaugural Pan American Championships in September, followed their first round bye with a 61 61 second round win but from there things got a little more difficult.
The opening set of their quarterfinal against the eighth seeds Rafael Agulha and Narck Rodrigues, saw the joint world number eleven’s edge the first set on a tie break 8-6 before making swift work of the second set 62.
Their run looked to be heading for a semifinal finish after they dropped the opening set 62 to the all-Italian pairing of Di Cori and Tronci, but they recovered to level the match with a 63 second set win and then posted the same scoreline in the decisive third set.
A tiebreak was almost required in the opening set of the final between the two top seeds but Font and Mingozzi averted this with a 75 win. Nine games were all it took in the second set and with a 63 win it was the number one seeds who took the title. This win, their second of the year together was also a fifth and fourth title of 2013 for Font and Mingozzi respectively.
There was plenty of drama unfolding in the women’s event which saw all four seeds through to the semifinals. Joint world number one’s Samantha Barijan and Joana Cortez reached the final following a close 76(6) 46 63 defeat of their fellow Brazilians Paula Cortez and Lorena Melo who had been seeded fourth.
In the final they faced second seeded Italian-Venezuelan pairing of Eva D’Elia and Patricia Diaz who had followed up their narrow 76(3) 76(5) quarterfinal win with a more comfortable 62 61 triumph to eliminate the third seeds Maria Buuts and Flavia Muniz of Aruba and Brazil respectively.
Barijan and Cortez who have tasted success on numerous occasions throughout 2013, including title wins at both the World Team Championship and Pan American Championships, appeared to be set to add another title to their growing collection when taking the opening set of the final with the loss of three games.
Their mixed-nationality opponents though did not buckle under the pressure which they must surely have felt and reversed the scoreline to level the match and force a deciding final set to settle this title clash.
As in the first two sets, this decisive set was settled by a close margin and with a 64 win the title at this Grade 1 event went to D’Elia and Diaz for their first title triumph together and a win which will enhance Diaz’s chances of breaking into the Top 10 before the year is out.