Russia’s Natalia Perminova gave second seed Kirsty Gilmour (pictured below) a fright when the 25th European Championships entered its third day in La Roche-sur-Yon today.
The Commonwealth Games silver medallist, who will be Scotland’s talisman at Glasgow’s 2017 World Championships, took the first game comfortably enough at 21-14.
But she hadn’t bargained on the determined fightback by an opponent who had lost their three previous meetings and who is ranked 29 places lower at No. 50 in the world.
Perminova (main picture) produced some dogged defence and some skilful and unreturnable net shots to storm back by taking the second game 21-13 from what proved to be the better end of the court.
Gilmour said: “I knew I had to build a lead in the third game for when I returned to that end and I told myself to stick to my safe game.” Her coach Chris Bruil didn’t mince his words: “The second game was terrible!”
But Gilmour was true to her word in building an early 6-3 lead before the Russian hit back to go 7-6 ahead. But that was the only time she led in the decider as Gilmour finally got the measure of her opponent by securing a priceless four-point lead at the change of ends.
She took the third game 21-10 to keep alive Scotland’s hopes of a first singles medal at any European Championship. And her success inspired young team-mate Adam Hall to a men’s doubles quarter-final with veteran Robert Blair in Hall’s first European championships as they hit back from 14-9 down in the second game to defeat Matthew Nottingham and Harley Towler 21-14 21-18.
Perminova’s reward for her work this week was to pass out Ksenia Polikarpova in the race to Rio while Gilmour heads toward the business end of the tournament and hunts a medal.
Ozge Bayrak’s hopes of adding another medal to her bronze of two years ago were dashed in the last 16 when the Turkish player was edged out by eighth seed Linda Zetchiri of Bulgaria 21-16 15-21 21-14 in a close contest – well it was until Zetchiri won seven of the last eight points.
But Bayrak cannot be too downhearted after her haul of ranking points here in France have enabled her to leapfrog team-mate Neslihan Yigit in the Race to Rio by going one round further than her doubles partner, who had gone out in the second round against Gilmour.
Spain’s sixth seed Beatriz Corrales poses the next hurdle for Gilmour, who said: “We know each other’s game pretty well. We have met three times.” Gilmour leads 2-1.
Only five women’s seeds are left in the competition after Denmark’s 2014 silver medallist Anna Thea Madsen knocked out Czech seventh seed Kristina Gavnholt 21-14 21-12.
At least one unseeded player was guaranteed a place in the last eight when Estonia’s Kati Tolmoff, who had knocked out Polikarpova, took on Finland’s Olympic hopeful Nanna Vainio (above right). Tolmoff took the first game 21-13, Vainio responded by taking the second 21-15 and the decider went Vaino’s way 21-19
The French fans should be out in force tomorrow as thee 25th European Championships enter the quarter-final stage. That’s because sixth seed Brice Leverdez has the chance to avenge his defeat by top seed and defending champion Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark at the same stage two years ago.
In Kazan Leverdez lost 21-12 19-21 21-12 but he set himself up for the rematch with today’s 21-12 21-11 win over Israel’s Misha Zilberman. Jorgensen was just as dominant in overcoming Dutchman Nick Fransman 21-10 21-12.
France’s hopes of a second quarter-finalist were dashed when Rajiv Ouseph, who took silver in Kazan behind Jorgensen, won a close contest with Lucas Corvee 21-17 21-16 as all the remaining seven seeds progressed into the last eight.
There was another intriguing Scandinavian duel earlier in the day when Denmark’s fourth seed Hans-Kristian Vittinghus overcame Sweden’s 2012 silver medallist Henri Hurskainen 21-13 22-20 after the Swede had recovered from 19-16 down to hold game point.
Yuhan Tan (above left) is the only unseeded play in the men’s quarters with third seed and 2012 champion Marc Zweibler of Germany now barring his path. Tan brought to an end Petr Koukal’s run with a 21-18 21- 15 win.
“I know Petr very well and one thing I needed to do was stay focused right to the very end. Petr played an amazing match yesterday and was maybe feeling the effects of that huge effort to put himself in with a shout of Rio. As for myself this is my last European championships and the last two times I lost in round of 16 so I am so happy to get to quarter finals”
There were mixed fortunes for France in the mixed doubles. Bastian Kersaudy and Lea Palermo (pictured below) knocked out Russian sixth seeds Vitalij Durkin and Nina Vislova 22-20 21-14 but seventh seeds Ronan Labar and Emilie Lefel went out 21-12 23-25 21-13 against Mathias Christiansen and Lena Grebak while Gaetan Mittelheisser and Audrey Fontaine suffered an agonising defeat by Dutch third seeds Jacco Arends and Selena Piek 17-21 21-18 21-19
It was far from plain sailing for top seeds Chris and Gabby Adcock (above right) as they were taken to the brink by Sweden’s Nico Ruponen and Amanda Hogstrom 21-13 17-21 21-18.
“That was a tough match today after such a good start in the first game” said Chris after the victory “Maybe we got a bit complacent and we have to give credit to Amanda and Nico as they pushed us right deep into our reserves”
What a good sport
Following the sporting gesture by Hungary’s Rio-bound Laura Sarosi, who loaned opponent Karin Schnaase a pair of shoes (the German didn’t put a foot wrong today!) in their women’s singles match yesterday, today’s sporting accolade goes to Germany’s Mark Lamsfuss and Petr Koukal.
Lamsfuss and Isabel Herttrich were in the third game of their mixed doubles clash with Ireland’s Sam and Chloe Magee when the umpire ruled that the shuttle hit Sam’s shirt before landing out of court, awarding the point to the Germans. Lamsfuss was having none of it and convinced the umpire that the shuttle didn’t touch Magee, in effect calling the point in the Irishman’s favour.
And just like Sarosi, Lamsfuss came off worse with the Magees winning 21-19 14-21 24-22 on their third match point, having saved one.
In the Koukal V Tan match the umpire made an error in the scoring handing Koukal an extra point in the second game. When the players realised it Koukal was first to point out the mistake and informed the umpire to take the point away which he did after consulting both players.
It certainly has been the games of amazing sportsmanship so why not give us your nomination for the Best Sport of the Championships!
The longest match of the day was the first – the 65 minutes it took for Christiansen and Grebak to beat Labar and Lefel. But 66 is still the time to beat.
Shortest? Today is was 19 minutes by Dutch pair Samantha Barning and Iris Tabeling but 15 remains the time to beat.
For all results from day 3 at #EC16 click HERE
For a full photo gallery from todays day 3 action click HERE
Article by William Kings Photos: Mark Phelan (LIVE)