by Simon Daish
Anastasia Kolish handed Russia the early advantage in the tie with a strong display against Chen Xingtai (11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5) only for Azerbaijan’s Ning Jing to respond with a positive outing herself, defeating Mariia Tailakova across four games (11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6) to level the scores.
The situation once again looked promising for Russia: Kristina Kazantseva’s commanding performance against Zhou Chuyi (11-8, 11-9, 11-7) restored the reigning Champion’s advantage, but there was still room for a late twist in the tale.
Recovering from a game down, Chen Xingtai condemned Mariia Tailakova to her second defeat of the tie (6-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-6) to force a deciding fifth fixture.
All eyes were on Anastasia Kolish and Ning Jing, both of whom were looking for their second success of the match and it was the latter of the two who triumphed in a five games thriller (9-11, 11-2, 11-8, 6-11, 11-4) to bring the battle to a close in Azerbaijan’s favour.
Azerbaijan will play out its second Group A encounter against Norway at 5:30pm (local time) while Russia faces opposition from the Czech Republic.