by Simon Daish
Following a successful qualification campaign Paul Drinkhall picked up an impressive victory over Russian competitor Alexander Shibaev in the opening round of the main draw (11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 3-11, 11-8, 11-7) before booking a spot in the quarter-finals of the Men’s Singles tournament with a positive display against French opponent Tristan Flore (11-9,6-11,6-11,13-11,11-8,11-8).
Another superb effort saw Paul Drinkhall eliminate the 10th seeded player Yuya Oshima in the last eight (11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-4, 11-8), and the English athlete leaves the Gold Coast with a smile on his face.
“It’s been a great competition overall. I think it’s one of the strongest tournaments where I’ve managed to get so far and it was good to do that here, where the Commonwealth Games are going to be next year – I can come back here with confidence”, Paul Drinkhall.
Unfortunately for Paul Drinkhall his amazing run at the 2017 Australian Open was brought to a halt after suffering a five games loss to the eventual champion Vladimir Samsonov (8-11, 4-11, 6-11, 11-7, 7-11), but the 27-year-old is optimistic that he will one day get the better of the Belarusian legend.
“Losing out to Vladimir Samsonov, I obviously wasn’t happy but he’s a great player and I’ve always struggled with his style. Each time I play him, I learn something, so hopefully one of these days I’ll take him down!”, Paul Drinkhall.
Just prior to his fantastic performance Down Under Paul Drinkhall was involved in T2 Asia-Pacific League action at the Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios, and while the unique rules format requires some adjusting to get used to the Englishman is delighted to be competing against a good number of the world’s strongest table tennis players.
“It’s interesting – a bit weird the first time, it took a while to settle in. It’s great to be a part of it with all the top players who are there, and it obviously helped me before coming out to Australia. Hopefully, I can go back and carry on that form. It’s a lot of travelling, so I need to manage it well, but table tennis-wise it’s great to be around all the top players pretty much once a month, getting to practice with them and play against them”, Paul Drinkhall.
Source: Table Tennis England