On match point, mid-rally, as Italians Flaminia Daina/Nicole Nobile (ITA) hoped to close out a wild match that saw them claw their way back from the brink of defeat against Joana Cortez/Rafaella Miller (BRA) in the Beach Tennis women’s doubles gold-medal match, centre court went pitch black.
“I’ve never seen this,” world No 1 Miller said. “I think this kind of thing happens in the movies.”
After 10 minutes in the dark, play resumed with the Italians ahead 10-9 in the third-set super tie-break. Brazil was able to save two match points before eventually succumbing in the third tie-break of the match 6-7 (6) 7-6 (2) 13-11.
In a match that could have gone to either team, 12 games were determined on a deciding point.
In the men’s final, Spain’s Antonio Ramos/Gerard Rodriguez prevailed in straight sets 7-6 (5) 7-5 over a dejected Andre Baran (BRA) and former world No 1 Vinicius Font (BRA). Spain and Brazil traded blows in the opening set, forcing a tie-break that eventually went the Spaniards’ way. Brazil took a 3-1 advantage in the second, but Spain battled back. Knotted at five games apiece, Ramos/Rodriguez won the next game and then went up an insurmountable 0-40 in the decisive frame.
Russia took both bronze medal matches: Daria Churakova/Irina Glimakova (RUS) on the women’s side and world No 1 Nikita Burmakin/Sergey Kuptsov in the men’s.
Surprisingly, the Italians were shut out of the medals on the men’s side. Top-seeded Alessandro Calbucci/Michele Cappelletti took the first set against the Baran/Font in the semi-final but struggled to find a rhythm during the second, forcing the match to a first-to-10 super tie-break, in which the Brazilians scored five unanswered points to close out the match with a score of 4-6 6-2 10-7.
Italy’s struggles continued into the bronze medal final where they faced the upstart Russians. Burmakin/Kuptsov – who were defeated in the semi-final by Spain 6-3 6-3 – easily dismantled the Italians in 52 minutes with a final score of 6-1 6-4.
Russia’s bronze in the women’s event also came at the expense of Italian top seeds. Giulia Gasparri/Sofia Cimatti, who earlier in the day looked out of sync in an uncharacteristic 6-2 6-3 loss at the hands of Cortez/Miller, fell to Russia also in the super tie-break 4-6 6-1 10-7.
The Brazilians and Italy’s Daina will vie for mixed double’s gold tomorrow starting with the semi-finals at 14:30. The medals matches will follow at 16:30.