Photo: Susan MullaneSerena Williams (USA)
Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka were on-hand to officially open the Hua Hin Open as the top two women in the world teamed up to play against locals Noppawan Lertcheewakan and Tamarine Tanasugarn in a demonstration of the sport.
The pair were in Thailand to compete in an exhibition prior to the start of the WTA season and both looked sharp as they made light work of their competition on the court having featured in a fashion parade the previous evening.
The event had previously announced that there would be record prize money for an ITF Beach Tennis Grade 1 competition with a total of $22,500 on offer between the men’s and women’s draws.
Once the action got under way in the Grade 1 event there was an early upset as the Italian duo of Matteo Barbieri and Marco Faccini defeated third seeds Regis Courtois and Michele Follegatti in the opening round.
The pair continued their run through the semifinals where they met second seeds Luca Cramarossa and Paolo Tronci. There was to be no repeat of the upset of the earlier round, however, as they fell to a 63 76(4) loss and their opponents advances to face the top seeds Mateo Marighella and Luca Meliconi for the title.
Marighella and Meliconi had surrendered just four games in their three matches to reach the final and their form showed no sign of slipping as they took the title with a comprehensive 62 63 victory in an all-Italian final.
The French pairing of Julia Coll and Caroline Renard proved to be the surprise package of the women’s draw as they took out third seeds Frederica Bacchetta and Pauline Bourdet in the second round and then progressed to the final with a 63 36 10-8 win against top seeds Sofia Cimatti and Giulia Spazzoli.
Their dream run came to an abrupt halt against Italian’s Eva d’Elia and Veronica Visani in the finale as they sunk to a 63 61 defeat and had to be content with a runners-up position.