by Simon Daish
Eye-catching from start till finish the match opened with a positive showing from Greek star Ioannis Sgouropoulos, who beat Martin Friis in four games (12-10, 11-9, 5-11, 11-6) only for Sweden to level the tie: Truls Moregard needed just three games to see off Ioannis Damianis (11-2, 11-5, 11-6) in the second fixture of the match to cancel out Greece’s advantage.
Michail Diamantopoulos and Truls Moregard prevailed in the following two encounters against Jonatan McDonald (11-8, 11-13, 7-11, 11-7, 13-11) and Ioannis Sgouropoulos (12-10, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8) respectively to send the tie into a deciding fifth fixture. With the hopes of a nation resting on his shoulders Ioannis Damianis pulled out a three games to one victory over Martin Friis (11-7, 11-13, 11-2, 11-6) as Greece emerged with a 3-2 win.
Also through to the quarter-finals against expectations is Azerbaijan, despite starting the campaign in “Level Two” of the competition. In the last 16 tie against Poland, Yu Khinhang put Azerbaijan in front with a straight games victory over Artur Grela (11-7, 11-6, 11-9) with Wang Chenxi and Yang Xinyu contributing further wins over Jan Zandecki (2-11, 13-11, 12-10, 11-13, 11-7) and Artur Grela (6-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5).
France continues to look a serious contender for silverware after posting a perfect result against the Czech Republic in the Round of 16. Opening the tie with a closely contested battle between Irvin Bertrand and Radek Skala (12-10, 12-10, 11-4) the French team took matters up a notch, sealing a quarter-finals spot with back-to-back successes from Bastien Rembert and Lilian Bardet.
Two victories from Laurens Devos and a third win courtesy of Olav Kosolosky proved enough to see Belgium over the line as opponents Hungary fell to a 3-1 defeat while hosts Romania prevailed by the same score-line against Spain at the summit of the draw.
In the other Round of 16 fixtures Italy, Russia and Germany triumphed 3-0 in their encounters with Denmark, Switzerland and the Slovak Republic.