Photo: SmashOnTheBeachMarty Salokas (USA)
CERVIA,ITALY: The first day of the Beach Tennis World Championships served up several shock results right from the word go as highly-placed seeds fell in the men’s and ladies’ events.
The drama continued as the temperatures began to soar and it was no surprise that the crowds that came to enjoy the show could not tear themselves away until the last ball had been struck.
The centre court may not have had the best beach tennis play of the day but it certainly saw the most shocking events with two top seeds crashing out through retirement.
The women's doubles was thrown wide open when top seeds Joana Cortez and Samantha Barijan retired from their second round match on centre court.
In the men's doubles, recent world No. 1 Vinicius Font of Brazil and his Italian teammate Alex Mingozzi won the first set 63 with some great play but unfortunately, after just one game in the second set, Mingozzi collapsed with an injury.
Despite calling a medical time out, Mingozzi was unable to continue and their opponents, Alan Maldini and Giulio Petrucci, were able to progress to the next round.
Mingozzi was clearly disappointed; "It's such a shame to have this happen now at the World Championships and it’s even worse because I was in good form and we were playing well coming into the event," he said.
Maldini and Petrucci proved to be worthy opponents nevertheless as they defeated tough Russian qualifiers Levan Nanava and Alexander Stakheev 63 63 in their second round match to book a place in the quarterfinals.
Font would be the first of many international players to go out of the tournament on the first day with the Italians and the local fans proving hard to beat both in the stands and on the sand.
Second seeds Pauline Bourdet of France and Flavia Muniz of Brazil were knocked out by Italians Simona Briganti and Flaminia Daina in a very tight match, 67(5) 63 60, and Marco Antonelli and Teo Casadei caused further upset in the second round by defeating fifth seed Marcus Ferreira and Thales Santos 63 64.
Elsewhere in the draw Matteo Barbieri and Marco Faccini knocked out seventh seeded Frenchman Regis Courtois and Italy’s Michele Folegatti in the first round before seeing off the Russian/Japanese pair of Igor Panin and Naoaki Yamamoto 62 67(7) 64. Barbieri/Faccini will face last year's runners up Michele Cappelletti and Luca Carli in what promises to be a thrilling quarterfinal.
Tournament favourites Alessandro Calbucci and Marco Garavini progressed comfortably into day two with only a slight challenge coming from Nikita Burmakin and Sergey Kuptsov in the first set of the second round. Calbucci/Garavini however soon picked their game up and sealed the match 76(5) 62.
"We have trained hard all year to have this level of cooperation between us and it pays off when you meet tough teams to be so ready," said Calbucci.