European semi-finalists send Russia, Hong Kong to Bangkok

With the quarter-finals complete at the European Men’s and Women’s Team Championships, Russia and Hong Kong got near confirmation of their qualification for the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in […]

With the quarter-finals complete at the European Men’s and Women’s Team Championships, Russia and Hong Kong got near confirmation of their qualification for the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Bangkok, which are now just awaiting the Pan Am Champions.

Photos: Mikael Ropars / Badmintonphoto (live)

There were some close battles in both the men’s and women’s quarter-finals at the European Team Championships but as far as qualifying for the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals, two of the winners were on the losing end both in Kazan and in Alor Setar.

France prevailed over hosts Russia in the men’s quarter-finals by a scoreline that appeared close as the Frenchmen won 3-2.  However, all five matches were relatively one-sided.  Moreover, if either team were focused on qualifying for the Thomas Cup Finals in Bangkok, it wasn’t their tie that made the difference.   With Denmark having qualified automatically for Bangkok as the defending champion, the only threat to any of the five top teams in the combined would have come from a lower-ranked team sneaking into the semis in Russia.  But Poland, Czech Republic, and Finland all went down rather tamely so the Russians will still qualify quite comfortably as the fifth European team based on the combined of their top 3 singles players and top 2 doubles pairs.

Still, Russia was third highest in the rankings and losing at home is not easy to take when they certainly had a chance to at least make the final four for the first time since 2012.  France prevailed on the strength of three singles players, winding up when Lucas Claerbout won his second game 21-6 against Shokhzod Gulomzoda (pictured above) to secure the semi-final spot for his team.

The Thomas Cup now simply awaits the winner from the Pan American Badminton Confederation, which enters its semi-final stage on Saturday.  The Pan Am region will send only its winning team.  Africa’s representative will be Algeria after they defeated Nigeria in the All African Men’s Team final earlier in the week.

Tentative Thomas Cup Finals qualifiers
Denmark Malaysia Chinese Taipei * Russia *
Thailand Korea France Australia
Indonesia India * Germany Algeria
China Japan * England Pan Am – TBD

* projected to qualify based on team ranking

Turkey’s loss to Spain, the other quarter-final that ended in a 3-2 scoreline in Kazan on Friday, was more decisive, however.  Asian teams had already claimed six spots in the Uber Cup Finals from the Asian team semi-finalists plus the assured spots for defending champion China and host Thailand.  Furthermore, Malaysia and India would obviously take 2 of the remaining 3 spots to be determined based on team ranking.

The last spot was more interesting.  Hong Kong, Spain, Germany, and Russia were all very close in overall team ranking but it looks as if the Hong Kong picked up just enough points in Alor Setar to stay ahead of all European teams but Denmark.  This meant that apart from Denmark, any of the other top 4 European teams that failed to reach the semis in Kazan would also be shut out of the Uber Cup Finals.

Of course, reaching the continental semi-finals was also the only way for any of the lower-ranked teams to gain entry to the Finals in May.  Bulgaria did just that in 2016, beating Turkey in the quarter-finals but this time around, they were unable to win a second match against host Russia, who prevailed 3-1.  This time, Turkey was one of the teams with a lower ranking and the Turks had a fighting chance of toppling Spain.

It all came down to a final women’s doubles match between two scratch pairings of each team’s top singles players.  Ozge Bayrak and Neslihan Yigit may have been long-time women’s doubles partners with several international titles under their belts but it was Spain’s Beatriz Corrales and Carolina Marin (pictured above) – who only seem to come together about once a year for team events – who came out on top 21-15, 24-22 to see Spain into the Kazan semi-finals on Saturday and the Uber Cup Finals in May.

The Pan Am champions will be decided in Trinidad on Sunday but Mauritius picked up the All African Women’s Team title on Thursday and they will join Australia in Bangkok as well.

Tentative Uber Cup Finals qualifiers
China Korea Denmark Hong Kong *
Thailand Chinese Taipei * Spain Australia
Japan India * Russia Mauritius
Indonesia Malaysia * Germany Pan Am – TBD

* projected to qualify based on team ranking

Click here for the latest results from the European Men’s and Women’s Team Championships

Click here for the latest results from the Pan Am Men’s and Women’s Team Championships

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @