Bulgaria come back from the brink
Date: 2/20/2016 7:43 PM
Published by : Mark Phelan
Semi-final day at the European men’s and women’s team championship in Kazan was full of drama and excitement. France managed to overcome England to join Denmark in the final of the men’s event while Bulgaria (main picture) were two match points away from exiting the women’s event but for some nerves of steel from Linda Zetchiri and Stefani Stoeva. 

The Bulgaria versus Spain semi-final was a re match of the very first group match last Tuesday where the Bulgarian team overcame the Spanish to top the group. Today’s match was much tighter with Spain getting the upper hand winning the opening two singles thanks to world Champion Carolina Marin and Beatriz Corrales. 

The maths were simple thereafter, The Bulgarian team must win the final three match to advance to the final and go one better than their bronze medal of 2014. 

Stefani Stoeva was to prove to be the hero of the day for Bulgaria taking the third singles and giving her team just a small glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. Petya Nedelcheva avenged her earlier singles defeat teaming up with Gabriela Stoeva to give Bulgaria their second point and levelling the match at 2-2.

The drama that followed was spine tingling as after sharing the opening games in the final women’s doubles Carolina Marin and Beatriz Corrales had two match points in the final set to send the Spanish into the final. 

It was the Bulgarian pair that held their nerve as Corrales faltered on her match point serve and somehow the Spanish drifted from their doubles game plan and appeared to slip back into singles mode which allowed Stoeva and Zetchiri take four points without reply to win and send Bulgaria into the final.

Bulgaria will now meet favourites Denmark in the final after the top seeds beat Germany 3-1 with Karin Schnaase winning Germany’s only point but maintaining her unbeaten record for the week in Kazan. A truly remarkable achievement in itself for the German number 1. 

France overturn England in epic men’s semi final

France defeated second seeds England in yet another match that went the full five match distance in Kazan. Brice Leverdez got a crucial point for France against England’s Mr. consistent Rajiv Ouseph which served to send the French on their merry way to the final. 

England bounced back with wins in the doubles from Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge while Toby Penty put the English requiring just one more win from the final two matches in the second men’s singles. 

That was to be the last match win in this year’s tournament for the English as the French came powering through at the end with a win in the men’s doubles courtesy of Labar and Maio with Lucas Claerbout (pictured) wrapping up the win for the French win a two game victory in the final singles over Sam parsons.

The French will now play overwhelming favourites Denmark in the final after the Danish men eased past Germany with talisman Jan O Jorgensen leading by example in the opening singles before an emotional Viktor Axelsen sealed the win in the second singles after Conrad and Kolding came good in the first men’s doubles. 

“It has been a tough few days for our team given the news of what happened to our team mate Cartsen Mogensen. But we came into this match focused and ready as we knew Germany posed a real threat to us. It was crucial for me to win the first singles and I think the victory was never going to be in doubt once Viktor went on court in search of the final point” said Jorgensen summing up his team’s performance after the semi-final. 

For all results from today’s play in Kazan click HERE

For a full Facebook photo gallery from quarter finals of #EMWTC16 click HERE

To watch all the matches on demand from court 1 on Badminton Europe’s YouTube channel click HERE

Article and images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe

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