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(Photo: Badminton Europe/ Koen Mutton)
Russia flex muscles and the Netherlands keep semifinal hopes alive
Date: 2/17/2021 12:02 AM
Published by : Alan Raftery
Day two is complete at the 2021 European Mixed Team Championships in Vantaa, Finland. Here is how it played out in Group 2.

Russia took on an energetic French team who were still buoyant from their 3-2 victory over the Netherlands yesterday. 

The young Toma Junior Popov, who battled for 1 hour 8 minutes yesterday, but came up short, was in for much of the same today. Vladimir Malkov, an experienced operator, kept the Frenchmen on court for eight minutes longer than yesterday. 

Having gained momentum in the second game, Malkov delivered a complete performance to get Russia off to a good start, 16-21, 21-11, 21-16. 

Qi Xuefei levelled the scoreline, saving two game points in the second game to win 21-15, 22-20. Having been 11-6 down, she explains how she was able to pull it back. 

-In the middle of the game I made some errors, which caused some trouble for me. My coach just told me that you relax and not to be so tense because she is more powerful than me. 

The leaders of the Russian team, Vladimir Ivanov/ Ivan Sozonov admitted being surprised by the scratch pairing of Julien Maio/ Ronan Labar, who forced them to three games. The 2018 European Champions eventually worked out a way, winning 17-21, 21-16, 21-15. 

-Julien Maio played unbelievable. It was a really tough fight for us, Sozonov said.

With a must-win match, Emilie Lefel/ Anne Tran pushed a resilient Anastasiia Akchurina/ Olga Morozova all the way. Coming up short in the first game, the French pair looked to have picked up ahead of steam in the second game, forcing settings. But Russia was able to keep their cool and secure the tie with a 21-19, 23-21 win. 

Although the tie was lost, points still could potentially come into play tomorrow. Therefore, the French mixed doubles pair of Thom Gicquel/ Delphine Delrue gave it their all. Despite being one of the most in-form European pairs, they had a 0-4 head to head against Rodion Alimov/ Alina Davletova. 

The confidence that stems from this perhaps made the difference. Alimov/ Davletova, who took control in the first game and after being 16-10 down, were able to put together a run which won them the match, 21-16, 22-20. 

The Netherlands bounced back strongly
The Netherlands, after suffering a narrow loss against France the day before, were focused on putting their campaign back on track. 

They did just that, winning 4-1 against a young England team. Freya Redfearn, who played a prominent role in England's qualification in Milton Keynes, won the only point for her country. She defeated Nadia Choukri 21-12, 21-6, in a dominant and focused display. 

-I am very happy and proud to get my first cap here. It was definitely a tactic to just keep my focus as I knew I had the momentum, so if I could stick with that, keep moving her about and staying consistent. 

The Netherlands now face Russia in an attempt to qualify for the semifinals.
 
All interviews from the matches can be found here

To watch all matches and tomorrow’s livestream, visit badmintoneurope.tv

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