by Simon Daish
Bojan Tokic put in a fantastic performance, contributing wins over Austrian rivals Robert Gardos (11-7, 12-10, 11-9) and Stefan Fegerl (3-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-7) to keep Slovenia in the tie.
Then came the crushing blow for the Austrian team as Darko Jorgic prevailed over Robert Gardos across four ends (11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8) to seal Slovenia’s place in the quarter-finals and leave the 2015 champions disappointed.
The other fixture in Group B produced another victory for Portugal as the Slovak Republic’s dreams of reaching the top eight were put to rest.
Despite suffering an early loss in the match Portugal responded well with João Monteiro, Tiago Apolonia and Marcos Freitas achieving positive results in the following three encounters to claim first position in the group.
“We knew before coming here that we were in a very tough group. The opponents were very strong and the matches were very tight. We are happy to have won all three matches and to have accomplished our main goal, which was to win the group”, Tiago Apolonia.
France has won Group D after pulling off a terrific result against Ukraine in the final set of group matches.
Trailing by a 1-2 scoreline and with Simon Gauzy dropping out of the match for fitness reasons the odds were beginning to stack up against the French squad, however, late replacement Quentin Robinot stunned Ukraine’s Kou Lei (5-11, 13-11, 11-8, 11-9) before a victory for Emmanuel Lebesson against Viktor Yefimov in the match decider (11-7, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7) gave France top spot.
“This morning Simon Gauzy played too much and had pain in his biceps, but he should play 100% tomorrow in the quarter-finals. This match was unbelievably long and my team gave me the energy to win the last game”, Quentin Robinot.
The two teams to qualify from Group C are Sweden and Greece, with both sides finishing their respective group campaigns with promising results.
Anton Kallberg, Par Gerell and Jon Persson frustrated the home crowd as Sweden tore through the host nation Luxembourg without conceding a single game, while Greece also registered a 3-0 win in its encounter against Russia.
There was no surprise early exit for Germany, after the title favourites finished at the top of Group A ahead of Croatia.
Making his first appearance at the 2017 European Championships, Timo Boll successfully came through his match against Kiryl Barabanov (11-6, 11-4, 3-11, 11-1) as Germany stormed to a comfortable victory over Belarus.
“We were concentrated and we played at a high level so it was quite easy to win the matches. We have got five-star players in good shape so we are ready to fight for the European Championships title and we hope that we can go far”, Timo Boll.
Germany’s reward is a meeting with Ukraine in the quarter-finals, Portugal faces Croatia, surprise package Slovenia goes head-to-head with Sweden while France and Greece will also do battle.