Sport’s glorious uncertainty chose yesterday’s European Championships quarter-finals to haunt Chris and Gabby Adcock; the Mixed Doubles top seeds crashing out in a hard-fought encounter in La Roche-sur-Yon, France.
England’s husband-and-wife partnership suffered a shock loss to unseeded Mathias Christiansen and Lena Grebak who stunned the Dubai World Superseries Finals winners, 14-21 21-19 21-19, in 59 minutes.
The Adcocks took the first game and appeared in control but, from the outset, the second assumed a different complexion as they had to reel in the Danes who led them by two or three points. Finally getting to 15-15, most would have favoured the world No.7 stars to reach the finish line. Instead, it was their opponents who forced a decider.
There again, the momentum was with the Adcocks who kept ahead and enjoyed a 15-10 cushion. Undaunted, Christiansen and Grebak clawed back valiantly and – with nothing to lose – grabbed three match points. The Adcocks withstood two, but the Danish pair held steady to claim a famous victory on their third attempt.
The result more than made up for Christiansen’s disappointment of missing out in Men’s Doubles when Mathias Boe withdrew injured. No wonder he went wild and celebrated by removing his shirt – only to be yellow carded!
“I am an emotional guy on court and throwing my shirt into the crowd is just the way I am. In the match we stayed very calm and in the zone and we want to go further now and not just settle for a bronze medal,” said Christiansen.
He and Grebak weren’t the only Danes to upset the seedings. Anna Thea Madsen was the first unseeded player through to the medal round in the raucous Vendespace arena.
Having won silver medal behind Spain’s Carolina Marin in Kazan two years ago, Madsen defeated Germany’s fourth seed Karin Schnaase, 21-19 21-19, to ensure another podium finish at this continental campaign. She too was thrilled with her performance.
“The goal was to win a medal and I’ve done that. It feels fantastic and I am going to try to better my silver of two years ago,” she declared.
Madsen faces second seed Kirsty Gilmour, who secured Scotland their first-ever singles medal at the European showpiece, following her 21-19 22-20 win over Beatriz Corrales of Spain.
These dramatic results followed a run of early matches that went with seeding as three defending champions quickly progressed.
Top seed Jan Jorgensen repeated his Men’s Singles rout of Brice Leverdez at the same stage two years ago but unlike in Kazan he did it in two games instead of three. His 21-18 21-11 over the French sixth seed also avenged his defeat in the European Team Championship Final in Kazan in February.
“Brice gave it all he had at the beginning and I just had to keep it steady,” noted the title-holder.
Jorgensen faces another rematch in the semi-finals as 2014 runner-up Rajiv Ouseph triumphed in the match of the day for both quality and entertainment, rebounding to oust Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus in the battle of the fourth and fifth seeds.
England’s Ouseph won 19-21 21-12 21-19, having trailed 19-17 in the third. After the 58-minute high-quality contest, he said: “Another medal (his third). I am very pleased with that. It’s always tough when I play him. I had to hold my nerve at the end and I am just happy to have won that one.”
In Mixed Doubles, Denmark’s second seeds Joachim Fischer and Christinna Pedersen were too strong for German fifth seeds Michael Fuchs and Birgit Michels, winning 21-15 21-15 while Spain’s title-holder and double World champion Carolina Marin breezed past unseeded Finland hope Nanna Vainio (21-11 21-7).
France, who have attracted big home support for their well-run Championship debut, saw their other two hopes bow out.
First, Bastian Kersaudy and Lea Palermo went down to Dutch third seeds Jacco Arends and Selena Piek 21-17 22-20. Even a raucous roar when Kersaudy got the pair back to 20-20 in the second could not lift them to turn round the match. On the next point there were groans as he netted a return. The Dutch triumphed on their second match point; Arends hitting a backhand drive to the open court with the French stranded woefully out of position. Piek is also through to the Women’s Doubles semi-finals with Eefje Muskens (featured image).
It was then left to the bearded Men’s Doubles duo of Ronan Labar and Baptiste Careme, the eighth seeds, to keep home flames burning but these were clinically extinguished, 21-8 21-8 by Denmark’s fourth seeds, Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup. The latter face top seeds, Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov of Russia, in the semi-finals.
The Dutch ensured themselves at least a second bronze when unseeded Samantha Baarning and Iris Tabeling defeated Germany’s No.4 seeds, Carla Nelte and Johanna Goliszewski, who was in tears after their 17-21 22-20 21-19 defeat. It was understandable considering the Germans had two match points at 20-18 in the second and led 18-15 and 19-18 in the decider.
There was another shock as Women’s Doubles No.3 seeds, Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva, fell to unseeded Danes Maiken Fruergaard and Sara Thygesen, 21-14 14-21 21-18. So two medals for Thygesen this weekend as she and Niclas Nohr advanced in Mixed Doubles also, beating Ireland’s Sam and Chloe Magee.