Photo: Stuart BarracloughSofia Cimatti and Eva D'Elia (ITA)
Italy sent a strong message to France as the two nations clashed in three of the four semifinals with France failing to overcome the favourites in any of the matches. Simply put by the Italian captain Stefano Bianconi, ‘We have four very strong teams here’.
World Champions Sofia Cimatti and Federica Bacchetta were the first to confirm a place in the final as they managed to see off the threat from French twins Marie-Eve and Mathilde Hoarau with unexpected ease 64 61.
Bianconi admitted that his team had the added motivation of chasing the ‘triple’, ‘We won the World Team Championship in Moscow and then both the men’s and ladies’ titles in the individual World Championships in Cervia and now we are determined to achieve this result’.
Talking about his French adversaries before the semifinals, he acknowledged the growth of the sport in France. ‘We have a very good relationship with the French. Beach tennis is growing a lot in France as it is in many nations and they are closing the gap with Italy. In time it is inevitable that not just the quality of the sport will grow but the variety of nations competing.’
Top seeds Eva D’Elia and Veronica Visani soon set up an all Italian ladies’ final as they defeated Manuela Amiard and Pauline Bourdet 61 63 in the second semifinal. Looking ahead to the final, Cimatti admitted it would not be an easy match.
‘We lost the Italian Championships [against Visani and D’Elia]’ she confessed, ‘but we beat them two weeks ago in the final of Viareggio and we won the World Championships last week. I am confident but we will see’.
Despite their semifinal loses, the French team were not to be disheartened. French Captain Raphael Jannel was far from disappointed with his team’s performance. ‘I am really happy and really proud of my team. The minimum for us was for our girls to reach the semifinals.
‘David [Mottin] and Cyrille [Lamy] played three excellent matches. They have played the best I have seen [against Russia]and I am very happy.’ His satisfaction is well-founded as the pair have played far beyond their level. Unseeded, they defeated a seed in each of their matches including the third seeded Russians.
Before their semifinal match against Italians Marco Garavini and Alessandro Calbucci, Mottin confessed, ‘I do not look at the draw when I am playing a tournament. I just play one match at a time. I am delighted. I am living the dream to be playing for France.’
It looked as though the dream would go on as they raced to a 4-1 lead in the first set against the Italian number one seeds but it was short lived as the favourites regained control and moved safely into the final 64 63.
The only semifinal not to feature a French team, was the fourth seeded Spaniards Antomi Ramos-Veira and Saulo Tejada who have looked dangerous all tournament. After defeating the Russian brothers Stanislav and Vladislav Zaichenko XXXXX they faced Luca Cramarossa and Luca Meliconi.
Despite putting up a valiant fight, and entertaining the biggest crowd of the day, they were no match for the number two seeds as they lost 64 64.
At the start of the event, all eyes were on German ladies Dorothee Berreth and Carina Blank who were runners up in the 2013 Championships and were keen to take the title. In the end, it was the French, not Italians who ended their journey 75 62 in quarterfinals. ‘We had a good start actually,’ said Berreth, ‘but [in the second set] we were not concentrating’.