Italy join Russia, Switzerland and the Netherlands in semifinals
The winners will book themselves a place at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The local favorites needed three matches to edge Austria on a day that has a special significance in Russia as the country mourns the many victims of World War II, better known there as the “Great Patriotic War”. Anastasia Vasina/Anna Vozakova opened by downing 2011 European silver medallists Sara Montagnolli and Barbara Hansel in straight sets (21-11, 23-21) before their compatriots Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova stamped a double 21-18 to power past Cornelia Rimser and Sabine Swoboda who had teamed up especially for this event.
The next game was already a final call for Montagnolli/Hansel who needed to score a win to keep their chances of a place at the London 2012 Games alive. That match was played in front of full stands and the Russian fans were on their feet as they were accompanying Ukolova/Khomyakova on their quest for a third win. The pairs exchanged the lead many times but eventually the home heroines cruised to the 15-10 in the tie-break that sealed a 3-0 win for Russia.
Switzerland dominated its quarterfinal against two young duos from Greece with Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Vergé-Dépré and Muriel Graessli/Tanja Goricanec not conceding a set to their opponents.
Russia coach Marco Solustri has already had his eye on the Swiss ladies ahead of their semifinal.
“They are very dynamic and have excellent control of the ball," he said. "I can’t say that they are powerful and tall, so we shall profit of our block to take control of the games. I am very satisfied with today’s performance of Vasina/Vozakova and Ukolova/Khomyakova also won their matches but to win the tournament we need to reduce our mistakes to a minimum. I do hope that tomorrow our duos will play even better than they did today."
Elsewhere, Italy needed a golden set to finally edge Spain. After scoring two wins each in the regular matches, an extra set was to be played. Italy had benefited from the forfeit of Spain’s Campisi/Lozano in the first match of the day but the Spaniards eventually returned to the court in the afternoon to beat Giombini and Orsi Toth to draw level. However, Daniela Gioria and Giulia Momoli were secured a place in semifinals by beating Simon/Hopf with the score of 15-11.
A golden set was not needed to determine the last semifinalist as the U23 European champions Michelle Stiekema and Riemke Braakman contributed a third win for the Netherlands by beating Shauna Mullin and Zara Dumpney of Great Britain 3-1 (18-21, 21-19, 15-11).