03 Oct 2021

There were extraordinary scenes on the third day of group stage action at the Gazprom 2021 European Team Championships in Cluj-Napoca as 2014 Men’s Team champion Portugal failed to qualify for the quarter-finals.

by Simon Daish

Denmark was the team responsible for Portugal’s downfall in the final Group E fixture. Jonathan Groth gave the Danish side an early confidence boost, beating Joao Geraldo 3-2 in an epic opening contest (11-8, 9-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9). Anders Lind followed up with the shock result of the match as he successfully recovered from two games down to stun Marcos Freitas (6-11, 12-14, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6) before Tobias Rasmussen sealed victory with a memorable outing against Tiago Apolonia (11-9, 13-11, 4-11, 6-11, 11-7).

“We had a perfect start to our match against Portugal. Jonathan showed why he is the best by beating Geraldo. I believe that his spirit and fighting attitude really helped the team in the following two matches, pumping us up so we could perform our best. In my match, I had a very rough start, I was down 0-2, and then I don’t know what changed, but somehow, I was able to turn it around, and for that, I am very happy. Tobias won in the third match with another great performance. I am super proud of my team.” Anders Lind

Defending champion Germany completed its Group A campaign with a perfect record after clinching its second 3-0 win. Facing Belarus, the German trio of Dang Qiu, Patrick Franziska and Ruwen Filus overpowered the opposing line-up of Pavel Platonov (11-9, 8-11, 11-2, 11-7), Vladislav Rukletsov (11-7, 11-7, 11-6) and Gleb Shamruk (11-2, 11-6, 11-8) to reach the last eight.

“It was the first match for me, so I was a little nervous before I had to play. I’m happy to know that I could win. The team performed well. Dang won against Pavel in the first match, which was important for us. After that, it was a little safer and easier. We are very happy, and now we are looking forward to tomorrow. Our top players are not here, but we are aiming for gold nonetheless.” Ruwen Filus

Elsewhere, Sweden, England, Austria, Russia, Czech Republic and Romania have all secured passage to the knock-out stage, while the likes of France and Croatia must now come to terms with elimination at the first hurdle.

Causing a stir in the Women’s Team event, Luxembourg pulled off an incredible upset in the final round of group stage fixtures, beating Russia 3-1 to top Group G. The ever-reliable Ni Xia Lian produced another impressive display for Luxembourg to see off Mariia Tailakova (7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4) and Polina Mikhailova (11-5, 11-7, 11-8). Sarah De Nutte also played her part, taking down Mikhailova across five games (11-6, 11-6, 9-11, 4-11, 11-9) as Russia succumbed to an early exit.

Luxembourg powers through to the knock-out stage (Photo: ETTU)

“The game was wonderful. We all played amazing, so we are really happy that we beat Russia. We knew that we had a chance against them, but it was a really tough match and we gave our best. We are super happy that we are in the quarter-finals. It was a very stressful match. Polina is my teammate in France, so I knew it would be tough for me to beat her because, for me, she is a really strong player. I’m just so happy that I could win this match and earn a point for the team. I’m happy Xia Lian won both of her matches as well.” Sarah De Nutte

The Portuguese contingent in the Men’s Team event may have suffered defeat on day three, but the country experienced opposite emotions on the Women’s Team front. Fu Yu led the line once again with victories over Georgina Pota (11-8, 11-4, 11-8) and Dora Madarasz (13-11, 3-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5), while Shao Jieni added a further win against Pota (11-6, 11-9, 11-7) to guide Portugal to a group-topping 3-2 win over Hungary.

“At the start, I was very nervous, and I felt some pressure. But as the game went on, I played better, and I was just said to myself, “okay, let’s keep going.” Dora is a very good player. In the previous match against Croatia, I was also losing before I managed to come back. I just tried to keep focus, doing my best.” Fu Yu

Germany, Romania, Austria, Ukraine, Poland and France all prevailed in their closing fixtures to advance as the respective winners in Groups A, B, C, D, F, and H.

General News Jonathan Groth Sarah De Nutte Ni Xia Lian Anders Lind Tobias Rasmussen

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