Olympic24: England's fairytale table tennis run continues; Davis Cup tie all-square

Olympic24: England's fairytale table tennis run continues; Davis Cup tie all-square

05 March 2016 / 09:53
England produce a remarkable display to reach the World Team Table Tennis Championship semi-finals while Great Britain end day one of their first round Davis Cup tie with Japan locked at 1-1. Here's our review of the last 24 hours.
  • Paul Drinkhall clinches the decisive point as England beat France 3-2 in a World Team Champs quarter-final for the ages
  • Andy Murray wins the opening rubber but Dan Evans falls in straight sets as GB and Japan tied at 1-1
  • Jon Dibben clinches a maiden world title in the points race at the World Track Champs 
  • Heather Watson through to Monterrey Open semi-finals
  • England face uphill battle to reach Cup quarter-final at Las Vegas Sevens title after slow start

Drinkhall and Pitchford shine as England reach semi-finals

Paul Drinkhall

England moved into the semi-finals of the World Team Table Tennis Championships for the first time in 33 years with another dramatic victory over France in Kuala Lumpur.

Paul Drinkhall was the hero in the last round against Poland and he did it again as England triumphed 3-2.

After wasting five match points, Drinkhall then had to save one in his decisive match with Emmanuel Lebesson, but eventually won 15-13, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 13-11.

That guaranteed England a medal as they reached the last four, with Liam Pitchford also outstanding on the day.

World No.64 Pitchford beat both Lebesson and then world No.27 Simon Gauzy before Drinkhall sealed the victory.

Drinkhall had earlier lost 3-0 to Gauzy, while Sam Walker was beaten 3-1 by Tristan Flore in a thrilling match.

England will now take on Japan in the semi-final while Korea take on China in the other last-four clash.

Murray triumphant but GB all-square in Davis Cup


Andy Murray admitted he had enjoyed being back in familiar territory as the world No.2 helped Great Britain to a strong start on day one of their Davis Cup tie against Japan.

Murray had not played a competitive match since losing to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final 33 days ago – a break that also coincided with the birth of his daughter Sophia.

And while 25 unforced errors and a handful of double faults dented his statistics slightly, it was still a solid match for Murray who saw off world number 87 Tara Daniel 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 to put reigning champions Great Britain 1-0 up.

But world No.6 Kei Nishikori levelled the match with a straight sets win over Dan Evans ahead of Saturday’s doubles rubber.

“The last few weeks have been the best of my life, really special," Murray said of becoming a father to Sophia.

"It has been tough the last few days being away from her for the first time but it had to happen to some stage, and it is a pleasure to represent my country and be with team-mates that we won with last year.

"The second set was tough - a lot of close games and some tough points, which was good for me.”

Read more from Murray here

Dibben wins maiden world title in London


Jon Dibben made sure to mark his first ever world title in style as he sprinted to gold in the men’s points race on a night in which Great Britain took their tally of medals at the 2016 Track Cycling World Championships to six.

Dibben was a part of the men’s team pursuit quartet who had to settle for silver at London’s Olympic Velodrome last night but there was no denying him this time around in a thrilling battle on the track.

The 22-year-old made a strong start to the 160-lap race and went ahead after gaining an early lap and crucially he had enough left in the tank to finish just as strongly.

He actually finished equal on 48 points with Andreas Graf but after winning the final two sprints and crossing the finish line first, gold was Dibben’s, much to the delight of the packed home fans.

"I'm lost for words," he said. "I came into this to give it my all. I rode it like an omnium points race. For 100 laps I was at my limit and in the last 20 everyone else just died off."

That concluded another successful evening for Team GB which saw Andy Tennant edge fellow Brit Owain Doull to men’s pursuit bronze while the women’s team pursuit quartet also picked up a bronze medal.

Read our full wrap of Friday’s action at Lee Valley VeloPark here

Mixed bag for GB stars in Mexico


Heather Watson reached the semi-finals of the Monterrey Open in Mexico but Johanna Konta exited at the quarter-final stage.

Watson upset No.2 seed Caroline Wozniacki in her last-eight clash as she produced her best performance this season to win 7-5, 6-4.

That set up a semi-final with Caroline Garcia of France and the British No. 2 believes staying in the moment proved pivotal.

"I'm very happy with how I played," said Watson. "I thought I played very well - I needed to against Caroline because she's a great player - and I had to fight to the end because I knew she would.

"I just took it point by point and didn't look too far ahead. I think one of her main traits is that she is such a fighter. She makes a lot of balls and makes you really win it.

"I knew I was going to have to finish a lot of points, come to net and not be too passive."

Meanwhile, Johanna Konta's run at the event came to an end in a three-set loss Kirsten Flipkens.

British No.1 Konta was a set and a break down but battled back to win the second set on a tiebreak before her Belgian opponent wrapped up the victory in the third – ultimately triumphing 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-1.

England struggle at Las Vegas Sevens

James Rodwell

England’s hopes of reaching the Cup quarter-finals of the World Rugby Sevens Series event in Las Vegas took a serious hit after a draw and a loss on day one in the USA.

Only a last-gasp try saw Simon Amor’s men snatch a 19-19 draw in their opening clash with Japan before Scotland beat the Auld Enemy 24-14 in their second Pool B contest.

That leaves it all to do for England when they take in Australia –who have two wins from two – in their third and final pool clash on Saturday.

Scotland lost their match with Australia 26-0 but know a win over Japan would see them through to the Cup quarter-finals while Wales went down 19-12 to hosts USA and 36-7 to South Africa.

Sportsbeat 2016