Rio Olympics: Adcocks battle back in ‘group of death’

Great Britain's Chris Adcock, left, and Gabrielle Adcock celebrate after defecting Denmark's Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen.

Great Britain's Chris Adcock, left, and Gabrielle Adcock celebrate after defecting Denmark's Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen.

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Drawn in the so-called ‘group of death’ it was never going to be easy for British mixed doubles duo Chris and Gabby Adcock.

But after losing their opening fixture, they made sure to get their Rio 2016 campaign back on track with an impressive victory over fourth-seeds and London 2012 bronze medalists Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen.

The Adcocks, who are aiming to become Great Britain’s first mixed doubles Olympic medallists since Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson at Athens 2004, went into Friday’s clash against the Danes knowing the outcome would prove pivotal for their hopes in Rio.

That came after they suffered a 2-1 loss to China’s Olympic silver medallists Xu Chen and Ma Jin in their opening match the previous day, leaving their progression to the knockout stages up in the air.

But boosted by Xu and Ma’s surprise defeat to Poland’s Robert Mateusiak and Nadiezda Zieba earlier in the morning, the Adcocks seized their chance with a 2-1 win over their own.

“It has been really hard because we don’t normally play tournaments with this format [group stage then knockout stage], if you lose it is normally straight knockout,” said Gabby.

“So to pick yourself up having been so close yesterday was really difficult. I think I sulked for about 20 minutes but Chris and the coach said ‘come on, look to the next game’. We are really happy with how we came out and performed there.

“We have got Olympic silver [China] and bronze medallists [Denmark] in our group, so we knew that everyone game was going to be horrible and a really tough battle but we were so up for the challenge and I think we proved that.

“We are just feeling confident now to be in it with all these pairs hopefully we can advance now.”

At one hour and 20 minutes long, the Adcocks clash with Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen was a tense and close affair.

The Brits gained the upper hand in the opening game which they won 21-19 but their opponents hit back in the second, bringing up several game points.

An impressive four were saved by the Adcocks as they themselves tried to close in on bringing up a match point but the Danes eventually held their nerve on their fifth opening to take it 24-23.

The decider was another thriller but after missing with the first match point, victory was sealed on the second for the Adcocks who recorded a 21-19 22-24 21-17 win.

They will next face Mateusiak and Zieba on Saturday with the top pairing in the group progressing to the knockouts while the runner up with be placed in a fresh draw to determine who they will face in the next round.

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