Ireland’s Magee brothers Sam and Joshua made the Men’s Doubles semi-finals against the reigning European champions at the Baku 2015 European Games yesterday.
The Magees (below) were pushed hard by Belgium’s Matijs Dierickx/Freek Golinski before coming through 23-21 19-21 21-15 to book a last-four place against Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Sozonov.
The Russians were however confident of entering the title round.
“”We have a lot of experience against Asian pairs who have strength and jumping power, it’s no surprise for us,” said Sozonov of Josh Magee’s jumping ability.
“We saw them today, we know the tactics we will use, and I think we will win.”
The other Men’s Doubles semi-final will feature top seeds Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen (Denmark) against Germany’s Raphael Beck/Andreas Heinz, who won a three-game battle over Poland’s Milosz Bochat/Pawel Pietryja.
It was a good day for the Magee family, as Sam, partnering sister Chloe, won their last group match against Samuel Cali/Fiorella Marie Sadowski (Malta) earlier in the day to enter the Mixed Doubles quarter-finals against Poland’s Pawel Pietryja/Aneta Wojtkowska.
Third seeds Niclas Nohr/Sara Thygesen (Denmark; above) and fourth seeds Gaetan Mittelheisser/Audrey Fontaine (France) also progressed into the quarter-finals, where they take on Jakub Bitman/Alzbeta Basova (Czech Republic) and Gennadiy Natarov/Yuliya Kazarinova (Ukraine) respectively.
Earlier in the day, Men’s Singles second seed Misha Zilberman crashed out to the unfancied Zvonimir Durkinjak (featured image) of Croatia.
The Israeli looked on course to take his quarter-final place after he clinched the first game in quick time, but the Croat seized a close second game and shut his rival out in the third to earn a 13-21 21-18 21-11 result.
Durkinjak will take on Spain’s Pablo Abian, who won a riveting match against Russia’s Vladimir Malkov.
The Abian-Malkov match was the most engrossing of the first session, with the advantage swinging both ways. Abian edged past his rival 25-23 after a 36-minute first game, which saw Malkov save three game points before his opponent desperately retrieved a shuttle from below the net; the shuttle clipped the net and wrong-footed Malkov to give Abian the lead.
The Russian did not lose heart despite trailing 15-19 in the second game and took the match to a decider. After some fierce exchanges early on, the Spaniard gradually asserted his dominance and closed out the contest: 25-23 19-21 21-15.
In the top half of the draw, No.1 seed Scott Evans (Ireland) was not troubled by Bulgaria’s Blagovest Kisyov as he eased through, 21-6 21-13. The top seed will play young Dane Emil Holst, who also was a comfortable winner over Italy’s Rosario Maddaloni, 21-16 21-16.
The top seed in Women’s Singles too made the quarter-finals. Linda Zetchiri (Bulgaria) held off Finland’s Airi Mikkela after some initial trouble, 21-19 21-10.
There were a couple of surprises in Women’s Singles. Fourth seed Neslihan Yigit of Turkey was toppled by France’s Delphine Lansac (above) in a 55-minute match, 8-21 21-10 21-11. The experienced Kristina Gavnholt (Czech Republic) also fell short against Lianne Tan (Belgium), 21-16 21-18.
One of the quarter-finals will be an all-Danish affair. Emerging prospects Anna Thea Madsen and Line Kjaersfeldt ensured a face-off by beating Marija Ulitina (Ukraine) and Jeanine Cicognini (Italy) respectively.
In Women’s Doubles, the top four seeds made the semi-finals. Top seeds Stefani and Gabriela Stoeva (above) will face third seeds Ozge Bayrak/Neslihan Yigit (Turkey), while second seeds Ekaterina Bolotova/Evgeniya Kosetskaya (Russia) take on Lena Grebak/Maria Helsbol (Denmark).