England are safely through to the quarter-finals of the World Team Championships as group winners after beating Belgium 3-1 today.

It ensured a 100% record for the Leopards, who finish above Japan in the Group C standings, with Chinese Taipei in third place. England beat both Asian nations on the same day earlier in the tournament.

England will face Sweden in the quarters at 5pm UK time on Friday after the hosts beat Chinese Taipei 3-2 on Thursday in the last 16.

The tie is in the bottom half of the draw, where China are the top seeds, meaning there is potential for a repeat of the England versus China semi-final from the Team World Cup in February.

Belgian No 1 Cedric Nuytinck, ranked No 44 in the world, did his best to upset the English momentum by defeating Paul Drinkhall in the second match and pushing Liam Pitchford in a lengthy first game of the fourth tie, but Pitchford won that and saw out the next two to complete victory.

It was his second win of the match, having earlier defeated world No 109 Florent Lambiet in the opener, while Sam Walker restored England’s lead in the third match as he came back from losing the first game to defeat world No 116 Robin Devos 3-1.

Meanwhile, England’s women – who are competing in division two – narrowly missed out on their place in the knockout rounds after today’s 3-0 loss to group leaders Serbia.

The trio of Tin-Tin Ho, Maria Tsaptsinos and Denise Payet finished fourth in their group. Overall they won three out of their five matches and will now compete in the positional play-offs. Their first tie will be against Cuba at 9am on Friday.


Men’s Championship Divsion
Group C
England 3 Belgium 1
Liam Pitchford bt Florent Lambiet 3-0 (11-5, 11-9, 11-8)
Cedric Nuytinck bt Paul Drinkhall 3-1 (12-10, 7-11, 11-4, 12-10)
Sam Walker bt Robin Devos 3-1 (9-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-9)
Pitchford bt Nuytinck 3-0 (16-14, 11-8, 11-6)

Women’s Division Two
Group H
England 0 Serbia 3
Andrea Todorovic bt Maria Tsaptsinos 3-0 (11-4, 11-6, 11-5)
Izabela Lupulesku bt Tin-Tin Ho 3-0 (12-10, 11-9, 11-7)
Sabina Surjan bt Denise Payet 3-1 (11-5, 12-14, 11-8, 12-10)