The French men staked their claim on the top spot on group 4 this afternoon in what proved to be a nail biter of a match against a gutsy Swedish team. Both France and Sweden had won their opening matches of the group with today’s tie having top spot as the carrot at the end of the stick.
Sweden gave the French an early scare as Henri Hurskainen beat French number 1 Brice Leverdez in the opening singles. The Swede has been in decent form in 2016 and was justifiably happy with his win over Leverdez.
“I played a good tournament in Sweden a few weeks back and since then I have been working hard on my physical condition. Brice was of course the favourite for the match but I knew I had been training well and with my team behind me it was an extra motivation to win the opening match”
Bastian Kersaudy and Gaetan Mittelheisser got the French back on track taking the second match with a win over Ruponen and Eidestedt but another form Swedish singles player, Mattias Borg had the Swedish believing the tie was theirs to win beating Lucas Corvee in three games leaving the Swedish needing just one more point from the remaining two matches.
Team France are very much a galvanised unit in Kazan this week and the experience of Ronan Labar alongside Julien Maio took the second doubles to leave the tie hanging on the final match between Lucas Claerbout and Mikael Westerback.
The Frenchman has been one of the most improved players on the European circuit this season and Claerbout fed from the reserve of confidence to ease past the Swede in two sets to take the tie for France 3-2.
France now sit top of the group with a shootout between Sweden and Scotland for the all-important second spot and a likely quarter final.
German girls take top spot in group 3
Group 3 in the women’s event had been billed as the group of death but team Germany came through as the seeded team with emphatic wins over both France and England. In this evenings match Karin Schnaase got the German’s off to the perfect start beating Fontaine Chapman in three games. The German number 1 was slow out of the blocks losing the first set but soon found her legs as the power game of Chapman was rendered ineffective thereafter in the slow Kazan hall.
“This hall suits my game and helps me a bit against the heavy power players” said Schnaase. “I had a slow start yesterday and again today so I know I need to work on that as I am fully aware that my match is a must win for our team”
Nelte & Herttrich followed the lead of Schnaase beating top English pair Olver & Smith in two games to take the pressure off the remaining singles players and Fabienne Deprez (pictured) delivered the all-important third point to secure top spot in the group for the 2012 champions.
“Winning the first two points took some pressure off me and the team beforehand just told me to go and enjoy the game without any pressure which I think I did today.” said Deprez after her victory.
England did get a point back after Johanna Goliszewski picked up a back injury and retired in the match against Brown and Robertshaw before Luise Heim rounded of the win for Germany against English debutant Miu Lin Ngan.
Elsewhere top seeds in both the men’s and women’s event, Denmark barely broke a sweat in their respective group matches while the Spanish men came through a tricky encounter against Belgium with Pablo Abian’s team now likely to follow Poland out of group six in second place.
For all results from today’s play in Kazan click HERE
For a full Facebook photo gallery from day 2 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