by Simon Daish
Two matches into the tie and nothing could separate the two teams: the Belgians struck first through Laurens Devos, who saw off Ioannis Damians with little difficulty (11-7, 11-8, 11-5), but Greece responded well with Ioannis Sgouropoulos defeating Olav Kosolosky (11-8, 11-9, 16-14) to level the proceedings.
David Comeliau and Ioannis Sgouropoulos overcame challenges from Michail Diamantopoulos (11-5, 9-11, 11-5, 11-9) and Laurens Devos (11-8, 17-15, 11-4), contributing further wins for Belgium and Greece respectively to send the tie into a deciding fifth encounter. Experiencing defeat earlier in the match but Olav Kosolosky was the hero at the close of the tie, beating Ioannis Damians 3-0 (11-8, 11-1, 11-9) to send Belgium through as group runners up behind France.
Following a successful outing on day one Russia has extended its winning run to three, prevailing 3-0 over the Czech Republic: Vladimir Sidorenko’s straight games victory against Radek Skala (11-4, 11-9, 11-7) resulted in an early lead for last year’s runners up before back-to-back wins courtesy of Maksim Grebnev and Lev Katsman finished the job. Germany, the team that beat Russia to the 2017 title, progresses from Group C in second place.
Poland has edged through to the last 16 after securing the runners up spot in Group A thanks to a mini-comeback from 1-2 down, beating the Slovak Republic 3-2. The host nation line-up of Rares Sipos, Cristian Pletea and Dragos Florin Opera secured their sixth point of the group with a dominant 3-0 display against Turkey, sealing top spot in the process.
In Group D Italy ended its group stage campaign on a positive note, accounting for Slovenia 3-0 but it was only enough to guarantee second position in the group as Sweden’s Martin Friis, Truls Moregard and Bruno Nettarp emerged as the victors against final opponents Spain.