frBy Neha Aggarwal
In the Men’s Singles round of 128, three players from England made the cut, Paul Drinkhall, Liam Pitchford and Sam Walker. However, the dream team, who created history at the 2016 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Kuala Lumpur winning the Bronze medal in the Men’s team event suffered two huge casualties.
World no.51 Liam Pitchford was knocked out by Iran’s Nima Alamian in a heart breaking seven games, match that went up to its last breath. Alamian beat Pitchford 8-11,13-11,8-11,11-8,12-10,10-12,11-9.
Alamian is ranked 128th in May 2017 global charts, and it is certainly a huge win for the Iranian.
Post his loss, Pitchford tweeted:
Ranked 138 in May 2017, Samuel Walker was beaten by Poland’s Jakub Djyas, ranked no.57, in a very similar narrow margin. Djyas won 11-9,7-11,8-11,11-13,11-8,11-4,11-8.
All eyes were on Paul Drinkhall next. The Englishman, Mr.Dependable delivered the most. Escaping narrowly from Brazil’s Cazuo Matsumoto, Paul won in six games (8-11, 11-3, 11-1, 9-11, 11-7 , 11-7).
Post his win, Drinkhall said, “I was not hoping for an easy game anyways, I had played against him at the Rio Olympic Games test event where I was trailing 0-3 and won 4-3. He is an extremly unpredictable player which makes it very hard to stay consistent.”
With this win, Drinkhall remains the only one in fray. He is set to compete against German superstar Dimitrij Ovtcharov in the round of 64 on 1st June at 20:30 local time.
“I have got nothing to loose against Ovtcharov. I have seen his preparations, but he was a close one in the first round, I am confident going in and will do my best.”
Head to head in the recent times, the two have compete three times. Ovtcharov beat Drinkhall at the 2012 London Olympic Games, and 2015 European Games. Drinkhall on the other hand beat the German at the 2014 Russian Open.
Ovtcharov has delivered at the biggest of the platforms, and with the home support along with him, he will enter the arena a confident man. The question is, can the lone Englishman keep England’s flag flying high?
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