France make quarter-finals in Thomas Cup debut

New Delhi: France made a memorable Thomas Cup debut by joining favourites China in the quarter-finals from group D with a 3-2 win over Russia in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Russia, who had lost both their previous ties against China and Taiwan, took the lead when Vladimir Ivanov defeated Brice Leverdez 21-11, 17-21, 21-8 in the opening singles.

But Lucas Corvee drew level with a 21-17, 21-4 win over Vladimir Malkov in the second singles, before Baptiste Careme and Bastian Kersaudy won the doubles to put France ahead.

The French, who had stunned Taiwan on Monday, gained an unassailable 3-1 lead when Thomas Rouxel beat Anton Ivanov 21-9, 21-14 in the fourth match.

"Winning against Taiwan was the key, because we knew we could beat Russia," Rouxel told AFP. "This is just so exciting. First Thomas Cup for us and we are in the knock-out round.

"I know people back home are also excited, because we have been getting a lot of messages on Facebook."

China, who had already qualified for the quarter-finals with two wins, ensured they topped the group with a 5-0 demolition of Taiwan.

Other fancied men`s teams also booked their quarter-final places even before the last round of league matches are played on Wednesday.

Former champions Indonesia and Thailand qualified from group A and Denmark and Japan made the grade from group B, all with easy wins.

Indonesia, hoping to add to their record tally of 13 titles, blanked Nigeria 5-0 without dropping a game in any of the three singles or two doubles matches.

Thailand, inspired by world number eight Boonsak Ponsana, proved too strong for Singapore in a 4-1 win marred by a leg injury to second singles player Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk.

Denmark, widely regarded as the best nation never to have won the Thomas Cup, made short work of England 5-0 to set up an interesting duel with Japan on Wednesday to determine the group leaders.

Japan routed Hong Kong 5-0 despite world number four Kenichi Tago being taken to three games by Yun Hu in the opening singles.

Japan and Denmark also made the quarter-finals from group Z in the women`s Uber Cup competition at the expense of Malaysia and Germany.

Indonesia and South Korea moved ahead from group X with easy wins over Singapore and Australia.

Hosts India topped group Y after beating fellow-qualifiers Thailand 3-2.

"It is great to finish on top because it helps to avoid the tougher teams in the quarter-finals," said India`s number one Saina Nehwal, who beat world champion Ratchanok Intanon 22-20, 21-14 in the opening singles.

"We are not worried about who we play next, but I know we will go in with a lot of confidence."

Fresh draws will be made for the quarter-finals in both the men`s and women`s competitions after the last league match on Wednesday night.

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