by Ian Marshall, Editor
England and Portugal emerged the nations to upset the seeding in the men’s event, in the women’s competition the distinction belonged to Poland.
The no.9 seeds, England overcame Belarus, the no.6 seeds; a 3-1 success being the margin of victory, Liam Pitchford the mainstay. He beat Pavel Platonov (11-4, 11-6, 8-11, 11-7) in the opening match of the fixture before bringing matters to a close by overcoming Vladimir Samsonov (10-12, 11-9, 12-10, 11-8). The one further success for England was recorded in the third match of the engagement when Sam Walker accounted for Aliaksandr Khanin (11-8, 5-11, 11-7, 11-5).
A four match win for England; it was even more convincing for Portugal, the no.10 seeds, in opposition to Greece, the no.8 seeds. Marcos Freitas, João Monteiro and Tiago Apolonia showed no charity as they posted a 3-0 win against the outfit comprising Panagiotis Gionis, Kalinikos Kreanga and Ioannis Sgouropoulos.
Impressive from the Portuguese trio, in the women’s event it was impressive from Poland, the no.11 seeds, especially from the reigning European champion, Li Qian. Lining up alongside Natalia Bajor and Natalia Partyka, a 3-1 victory margin was posted against the no.6 seeds, the Swedish combination of Matilda Ekholm, Linda Bergström and Christina Källberg. Li Qian beat both Linda Bergström (9-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-2) and Matilda Ekholm (11-6, 11-6, 11-8); the one further Polish win was secured by Natalia Bajor, in the fourth match of the fixture she overcame Christina Källberg (11-13, 11-3, 11-2, 11-9).
Upsets and there were close calls, none more so than in the men’s team contest between Poland, the no.7 seeds and Belgium, the no.12 seeds; supported by Jakub Dyjas and Samuel Kulczycki, Marek Badowski emerged the Polish hero against the unit comprising Cédric Nuytinck, Florent Lambiet and Martin Allegro. In the opening match of the fixture he beat Cédric Nuytinck (11-5, 11-4, 13-11), before in the vital fifth and deciding match of the contest, after Jakub Djyas had levelled matters by overcoming Cédric Nuytinck (11-9, 11-7, 11-9), he accounted for Florent Lambiet by the very narrowest of five game margins (11-8, 11-5, 6-11, 3-11, 15-13).
A full distance five match contest, it was the same in the men’s team event for the no.4 seeds, Austria’s Robert Gardos, Daniel Habesohn and Stefan Fegerl in opposition to Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, Anders Lind and Tobias Rasmussen. Just as Marek Badowski was Poland’s hero playing in the first and fifth matches, so Robert Gardos was the Austrian star. He beat both Jonathan Groth (11-6, 14-12, 11-8) and Anders Lind (11-6, 7-11, 11-5, 11-2); the one further Austrian win was secured by Stefan Fegerl, in the third match of the fixture. He overcame Tomias Rasmussen (11-7, 11-5, 11-8).
Similarly, in the women’s event the French outfit formed by Laura Gasnier, Pauline Chasselin and Audrey Zarif, the no.8 seeds, needed the full five matches to overcome the no.12 seeds, the Luxembourg team of Sarah de Nutte, Ni Xia Lian and Tessy Gonderinger. The player to cause the problems being Ni Xia Lian, she accounted for both Pauline Chasselin (11-0, 11-3, 13-11) and Laura Gasnier (11-6, 11-7, 12-10).
Moments of trepidation for the French women, not for their male counterparts; the no.3 seeds, selecting Simon Gauzy, Emmanuel Lebesson and Can Akkuzu, in their concluding group stage encounter, a 3-0 win was recorded in opposition to the no.15 seeds, the Slovakian combination of Alexander Valuch, Lubomir Pistej and Wang Yang.
Imposing from France, in the men’s event it was the same from Germany. The top seeds; fielding Timo Boll, Patrick Franziska and Dimitrij Ovtcharov, a 3-0 win was recorded against the no.13 seeds, the Russian combination of Kirill Skachkov, Alexander Shibaev and Vladimir Sidorenko.
Likewise, for the women, the top seeded Romania trio of Bernadette Szocs, Elizabeta Samara and Daniela Monteiro-Dodean was totally focused; they reserved first position in their group courtesy of a 3-0 win when facing the no.14 seeds, the Spanish combination of Galia Dvorak, Maria Xiao and Zhang Xuan.
The last eight teams decided. At the quarter-final stage of the men’s event, Germany plays Slovenia, Poland opposes France; in the adjacent half of the draw Austria confronts Portugal, England meets Sweden. In the women’s competition it is Romania versus France, Poland against the Netherlands; in the lower section of the draw Hungary opposes Ukraine, Portugal meets Germany.
All quarter-final fixtures will be played on Friday 6th September.