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Birch headlines English success at European Championship

The in-form Chloe Birch enjoyed further success on day two of the European Championships and claims her confidence has never been higher as she continues to make waves in Spain.

Birch advanced to the last 16 of both the women’s singles and doubles in Huelva, the former thanks to a hugely impressive win over fifth seed, and home favourite, Beatriz Corrales.

The first game saw the pair locked at 15-15 before Birch won six of the next seven points to triumph 21-16.

The second game followed a similar pattern as, from 14-14, the English shuttler took three points on the spin and held off Corrales the rest of the way to win 21-19 – taking the match in 38 minutes for her first win against the Spaniard.

And 22-year-old Birch – who, earlier this month, picked up a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in the mixed team event on the Gold Coast, as well as reaching the round of 16 in the women’s singles – is flying high ahead of Thursday’s clash with Germany’s Luise Heim.

“I’m really happy with that win. I knew the crowd were going to be on her side, so I just went out to play my game and had nothing to lose against her,” said Birch.

“The Commonwealth Games were amazing for me – I played really, really well out there and the hard work I had been putting in started to show also.

“I have been playing well this past year but not converting chances against the better players. Today, I did that. I’ve now got confidence that I can beat the better players, so I’m looking forward to the next round.”

Earlier in the day, Birch had teamed up with Jessica Pugh in the women’s doubles to cruise past Turkish duo Busra Unlu and Ebru Yazgan 21-9 21-9 in 23 minutes.

Chloe Birch and Jess Pugh European Champs 2018 690

From 6-5 ahead, the English pair won 15 of the next 19 points to take victory in the first and a run of eight consecutive points from 3-3 in the second game gave them a healthy advantage they never surrendered.

A meeting with Italian duo Silvia Garino and Lisa Iversen now awaits for the eighth seeds in the round of 16 on Thursday.

Elsewhere in the women’s doubles, fourth seeds Lauren Smith and Sarah Walker also comfortably progressed as they downed Maryna Ilyinskaya and Yelyzaveta Zharka of Ukraine 21-13 21-16.

Meanwhile, the men’s doubles saw Ben Lane and Sean Vendy advance thanks to a walkover when their opponents, number one seeds Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen of Denmark, withdrew.

Peter Briggs and Tom Wolfenden did take to the court, where they dispatched Italians Giovanni Greco and Rosario Maddaloni 21-13 21-10 in just 24 minutes, while Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge ensured there will be a trio of English pairs in the last 16.

Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge European Championships2018 690

The fifth seeds, Commonwealth champions and Olympic bronze medallists, beat another Italian duo – Lukas Osele and Kevin Strobl – 21-12 21-17 but Ellis says they won’t be getting ahead of themselves despite the draw opening up thanks to the withdrawal of top seeds Boe and Mogensen, who they could have faced in the semi-finals.

“We’ve got two tough matches before we even get to a semi-final and we might have to beat someone who is higher ranked than us in the quarter-final, so we can’t really look that far,” he explained.

“If we get to the semi-final, I am sure there will be someone strong there as well. So regardless of whether they have pulled out, you could say ‘we’ve got a chance to get to the final’ but I certainly don’t see it that way. And we have to play very, very well to get there anyway.

“Maybe today was one of those matches we weren’t really switched on for and we could have played a little bit better but it was enough to win our first round.”

And finally, the men’s singles saw two of the three English competitors advance as third seed Raj Ouseph beat home favourite Luís Enrique Peñalver 21-19 21-8 and Sam Parsons was handed a walkover following Maxime Moreels’ withdrawal and now faces top seed Viktor Axelsen next, although Toby Penty went down 21-12, 15-21, 22-20 to second seed Anders Antonsen of Denmark.

Photo credit: Badminton Photo