European Championship: Carolina Marin survives scare

Marin recovered from 20-17 down in the second to draw level at 20-20. However, Akvile forced the match to a deciding third set, which the Spaniard won comfortably.

Carolina Marin will now face Alesia Zaitsaiva of Belarus in the last 16 tomorrow.   -  Getty Images

Double World Champion Carolina Marin had to face tough challenge as she began her title defence on day two of the European Championships in La Roche-sur-Yon. The top seed began had a nervous second set but overcame Akvile Stapusaityte to win 21-14, 20-22, 21-9 in 59 minutes.

Marin recovered from 20-17 down in the second to draw level at 20-20. However, Akvile forced the match to a deciding third set, which the Spaniard won comfortably.

Marin will now face Alesia Zaitsaiva of Belarus in the last 16 tomorrow.

Earlier, Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen also had to overcome adversity. The second seed came through 23-21, 16-21, 22-20 after 65 minutes against French wild card, Lucas Claerbout.

A relieved Axelsen, a bronze medallist at the 2012 and 2014 Europeans, said: “In the end I am happy to have taken the victory. But I had a lot of difficulties and Lucas played really well.”

The day witnessed long matches. Czech flag bearer at 2012 London Olympics, Petr Koukal, started the day 61-minute win over eighth seed Raul Must. Koukal overcame Must 13-21, 21-18, 21-16.

Playing his final Olympics, Koukal said after his win: “I have two tattoo’s on my arm from the last two Olympic Games and I have kept a spot for Rio just in case. I have never beaten Raul (Must) before and to do it today when I needed it most was probably the biggest win of my career in terms of outright pressure.”

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