by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
There was no change to British line-up of Jane Campbell and Sara Head from four years ago, when the duo had recovered from a two matches to nil deficit to record a thrilling three-two win.
In Rio de Janeiro, there was one change to the Italian selection; Mihaela Brunelli partnered Giada Rossi as opposed to Pamela Pezzutto.
Let’s hope the excitement was not great Pamela Pezzutto, she is an expectant mother; unless I’m mistaken and the sign language from the Italians meant she has eaten too many pizzas!
Also in Rio de Janeiro the fixture format is different. In London a contest that went the full distance was four singles matches and a deciding doubles, in Rio de Janeiro it is doubles followed by two singles contests.
In England’s capital city Jane Campbell and Sara Head had won the doubles; in Rio de Janeiro they did the same; they emerged successful in three straight games (11-6, 11-8, 11-5) to give their team the perfect start.
Alas for Great Britain that was to be the only success; Sara Head was beaten by Michaela Brunelli (11-8, 11-6, 14-16, 11-5), Jane Campbell by Giada Rossi (12-10, 11-5, 5-11, 11-5).
Four long years
“We have been waiting for four long years to gain revenge for the defeat in London”, said Mihaela Brunelli. “It was such a tremendous disappointment.”
Unquestionably it was determined Michaela Brunelli in Riocentro Pavilion 3.
“I knew how to play Sara”, added Michaela Brunelli. “Push long and hard with backspin deep to her backhand and when possible short to the forehand was the tactic.”
Pressure on Giada Rossi
The plan worked; the win recorded by Michaela Brunelli levelled matters; Italian fate lay in the hands of Giada Rossi. Cool and calm but not doubt boiling inside she delivered.
“I was totally focused, I wanted to win so badly; Jane is a good player”, said Giada Rossi. “After winning the first two games I felt more comfortable; tactically I focused on making sure I served well.”
Heart rate increased
Success for Michaela Brunelli and Giada Rossi but spare thought for Clara Podda the one further member of the Italian team who had to sit and watch the drama unfold.
“My heart was beating so fast”, smiled Clara Podda. “Now I know what it’s like to be a coach!”
Success for Croatia
A quarter-final success for Italy and in the one other last eight duel that was required in Women’s Team Class 1-3, it was success for the Croatian combination of Andela Muzinic and Helena Dreter-Karic.
They beat Thailand’s Chilhitparyak Bootwansirina and Dararat Asuyat by two matches to nil.