BEIJING (Reuters) -Italy moved to within touching distance of an Olympic mixed doubles semi-final spot after staying top of the standings by edging world champions Britain in a tight contest at the National Aquatics Centre on Saturday.
Britons Bruce Mouat and Jennifer Dodds levelled the game at 4-4 with two ends remaining but Stefania Constantini clinched three points and victory for Italy with a fantastic shot in the seventh.
Yet to taste defeat after six games, Italy have been the surprise of the tournament and remain the only team with a perfect record in the round-robin stage with three matches remaining.
“I didn’t expect us to not lose after six games,” said Italy’s Amos Mosaner. “I didn’t perform so well but Stefania saved me in a lot of situations — that was the key to the game.”
Sweden boosted their chances of advancing to the semi-finals with 6-1 and 6-2 victories over Switzerland and Canada on Saturday, as Oskar Eriksson and Almida de Val climbed to second in the standings.
“Today was a big step forward for us and this puts us in a better position to fight for the playoff spots,” Eriksson said after Switzerland conceded the game in the seventh end. “This was probably our best game.”
Canada, the Olympic champions, returned to winning ways with a 7-2 victory over the United States and are level with Britain in third place with an identical record of four wins and two defeats.
Pyeongchang silver medallists Switzerland have been struggling in the event’s second appearance at the Games, with their dominant 11-3 win over Czech Republic only their second victory in six matches.
“We lost two games in the extra end and now we are where we are,” Switzerland’s Martin Rios said. “We have to look forward now and try our best in the coming games and try to win all of them to have a chance, that’s all we can do.”
Australia are still searching for their first victory and remain rooted to the bottom of the table after seven games after comprehensive 10-4 and 7-3 defeats by Norway and Italy on Saturday.
Norway beat China 9-6 to move into joint-fifth place with the United States while the hosts are in a three-way tie in seventh with Czech Republic and Switzerland.
The top four teams will advance to the semi-finals, which will be played on Monday.
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Ed Osmond)