Drinkhall reaches second round

28 July 2012 / 18:35

Paul Drinkhall followed up girlfriend Joanna Parker's success at the London 2012 Olympics on a fine day for British table tennis.

Drinkhall and Parker, Team GB's only representatives in the singles events, got under way in perfect fashion.

The latter warmed the crowd with a thumping straight-games first-round victory over Brazil's Caroline Kumahara, leaving the pressure on her partner and team-mate.

Drinkhall then repeated the trick, winning 4-0 (11-9, 12-10, 11-9, 11-4) against Kuwait's Ibrahem Al-Hasan.

He will now meet Zi Yang, of Singapore, in the second round on Sunday.

The Kuwaiti looked in trouble in most rallies, though his opponent's positive approach on occasion proved detrimental.

Indeed, Drinkhall did make several unforced errors in the first game and surrendered leads at 8-7 and 9-8. His riposte was impeccable as a return full of finesse left him serving for a 1-0 lead - something he duly claimed via two powerful forehands.

Al-Hasan, though, had shown heart in beating Saheed Idowu in the preliminary round, and did so again early in the next by taking the first three points. Yet Drinkhall, like Parker had earlier when under pressure, displayed spirit of his own to win the next five and eventually seal a tight game.

A close-fought third ensued, but Drinkhall once again showed a thirst for delivering when it really counts. The Middlesbrough-born right-hander was behind for most of the game, but, after levelling things up at 7-7, claimed four of the next six points.

To his credit, Al-Hasan never gave up - though he had no answer to Drinkhall's pressure in the last as the Englishman completed the perfect afternoon by virtue of a dominant game.