Photo: Massimo MorelliReunion G1 - wc 10 March 2014 - action
SAINT GILLES LES BAINS, REUNION: The second of two back-to-back Grade 1 tournaments held on islands in the Indian Ocean took place over the weekend and saw successful title defences in both the men's and women's draw.
Last year, Pauline Bourdet and Flavia Muniz finished runners-up in Mauritius ahead of their title win on Reunion Island and the duo repeated this sequence for 2014.
The men’s event saw Michele Cappelletti record a March title triumph on the island for the third year in succession. Victory with Luca Carli also represented a repeat of their Mauritius/Reunion back-to-back title success in 2013.
Bourdet and Muniz’s run to the title saw them, after a first round bye, post three comfortable straight sets wins, never conceding more than two games in a set, broken only by a quarterfinal in which they were pushed hard before winning 63 36 64.
The final saw the pair take on Daria Churakova and Liudmila Nikoyan, a pair on form and yet to drop a set in the tournament.
Bourdet and Muniz got off to a flying start in the final, dropping just one game as they raced into a one-set lead. Their Russian opponents fought back, forcing the second set into a tiebreak which they took to level the match. The pair were unable to keep the momentum and add to their four titles won in 2013 as the defending champions secured the title with a 63 win in the deciding set.
Cappelletti always seems to enjoy March time on the Indian Ocean islands. A winner during the month with Matteo Marighella in Mauritius and Reunion in 2012 was followed in 2013 with triumphs playing alongside Luca Carli.
Having already won yet again in Mauritius, making a successful defence with Carli, the two Top-5 ranked Italians set about retaining their title in Reunion. Both finalists had a bye in round one but that’s where the similarities ended.
The Italian duo went on to win through successive rounds without loss of a set to claim a place in the final once more whereas their French opponents, Lionel Bertolini and Philippe Vadel, saw themselves fall behind in each round before reaching the final.
Bertolini and Vadel had already earned a title on the island back in February with success in a Grade 3 tournament in Saint Pierre but any hopes of repeating that triumph in this Grade 1 tournament were soon ended. Finding themselves a set down for the fifth consecutive round, the Frenchmen were unable to stage another recovery as Cappelletti and Carli restricted them to just one game in the second set to retain their title, winning 63 61.
This fine tournament, played out in fabulous weather conditions and witness to top class beach tennis action throughout, saw crowds pack the stands, long into the night for some games, and is certain to continue to be a major attraction for players.