02 Oct 2021

Harbouring grand ambitions, France continues to light up the stage in the Women’s Team event at the Gazprom 2021 European Team Championships in Cluj-Napoca after pulling off another eye-catching victory on Friday 1st October.

by Simon Daish

Prithika Pavade put France on the front foot against quarter-final opponent Austria after she stunned Sofia Polcanova in the match opener (11-6, 13-11, 8-11, 11-2). Another mighty French performance followed as Yuan Jia Nan upstaged Liu Jia (12-10, 12-14, 11-8, 11-9) before Pauline Chasselin outclassed Karoline Mischek (14-12, 11-5, 11-6) to put the result beyond any doubt.

“We knew from the beginning that this match wasn’t going to be easy. Polcanova, Liu, and Mischek are very good players. Today we all played well, so we managed to win. We are so proud that we won this match. I hadn’t played against Liu before, so I had to concentrate and stay focused. At the end of the first game, Liu led 9-10, but I managed to save a game point, and I finally won 14-12. We are so happy to play in the semis. I hope that we will play even better.” Yuan Jia Nan

Hosts Romania also enjoyed a convincing win at the quarter-final hurdle, seeing off Luxembourg 3-0. Bernadette Szocs opened the scoring with a straight games success over Sarah De Nutte (11-9, 11-5, 11-9), and the advantage was doubled soon after as Elizabeta Samara expertly navigated a problematic encounter against Ni Xia Lian (11-7, 11-9, 4-11, 11-9). Daniela Monteiro Dodean overcame Tessy Gonderinger (11-7, 11-5, 12-10) to finish the job for Romania.

“We are really happy that we qualified for the semi-finals. Today was a tough match with a lot of pressure, and it was very complicated. Ni Xia Lian always causes problems for us, but happily, Samara is very experienced, and we counted on her ability to make the impossible, possible. We hope we will have a lot of supporters tomorrow to help us reach the final.” Daniela Monteiro Dodean

Portugal remains in the title race after two wins from Fu Yu and a third from Shao Jieni proved enough to eliminate Ukraine 3-1. Awaiting Portugal in the semi-finals is none other than Germany following another barnstorming 3-0 display from the seven-time champion against Poland.

The Men’s Team event also delivered plenty of drama, with Russia producing one of the day’s standout results. Fielding a young line-up, the Russian team recovered from a 0-2 deficit to stun 2015 title-winners Austria 3-2 in a breathtaking quarter-final. Lev Katsman, 20, started the Russian comeback with his 3-1 victory over Andreas Levenko (11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9), before Maksim Grebnev, 19, beat Daniel Habesohn (8-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 14-12) to level the match at 2-2. Playing with the weight of a nation on his shoulders, Vladimir Sidorenko, 19, squeezed past Robert Gardos (11-6, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5) to secure the win.

Sheer delight for Russia (Photo: ETTU)

“I did not want to play the last match. The pressure was enourmous. At 2-2, we are playing for the medal at the Championships. I was afraid, so I asked the coach if Kirill could play instead of me, but he didn’t let that happen. I played and I felt incredible! I was quiet; I did not celebrate when I won a point. However, my teammates shouted and celebrated, giving me support. At 6:6 in the fourth game, Gardos made an easy mistake and that’s when I realised that he was nervous too. It gave me confidence, launching me back into the match. From that point, I was totally focused.” Vladimir Sidorenko

Reaching the knock-out rounds with a sensational victory over 2014 champion Portugal, Denmark’s extraordinary run was extended on Friday after the team edged a 3-2 thriller against England. In a match that ran over three hours and 50 minutes, Denmark once again turned to Anders Lind for inspiration as he chalked up impressive results against Liam Pitchford (8-11, 11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9) and Paul Drinkhall (7-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7). Tobias Rasmussen also played a significant role in determining the outcome of the tie as he beat Sam Walker (11-9, 9-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8).

“It was a very difficult match coming into it. England has a very strong team. We had a rough start with so we were down 0-1. Then I played my match, and I played really well. I made it 1-1 playing against Pitchford, and then we all regained our spirit. My teammate Tobias played an amazing match. He is really strong mentally, and we are all very proud of him. Jonathan, unfortunately, lost to Pitchford, who played great in the match. My match against Drinkhall was probably the most satisfying moment of my life, but experiencing it was pure hell. I was tired, and I had pain; everything felt bad. I got a yellow card against me. But I somehow managed to stay strong and positive, which has been my problem in the past. Now we are in the semi-finals, and I can’t explain how happy I am. It’s an unbelievable feeling, absolutely unbelievable.” Anders Lind

The two remaining quarter-finals both unfolded as anticipated. Germany negotiated a tight match at the summit of the draw, accounting for the Czech Republic 3-1. Meanwhile, Sweden broke the hearts of the local attendees in Cluj-Napoca as Anton Källberg, Truls Moregard and Mattias Falck proved too strong for Romania, beating the host nation 3-1.

General News Prithika Pavade Yuan Jia Nan Pauline Chasselin

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