Drinkhall exits singles

Paul Drinkhall was unable to replicate his shock win on Sunday

Paul Drinkhall was unable to replicate his shock win on Sunday

First published in National Sport © by

Paul Drinkhall could not repeat Sunday's heroics as he was knocked out of the table tennis singles at the London 2012 Olympics by Germany's world number 12 Dimitrij Ovtcharov.

The Brit had already exceeded expectations by reaching round three, with a 4-1 victory over Singapore's Zi Yang likely to live long in the memory. However, Ovtcharov was always going to operate on another level and Drinkhall could not take the extra step up in class.

Indeed, the German cruised to an 11-8, 11-5, 11-9, 11-4 straight games win - a result that should not detract from Drinkhall's excellent effort in the tournament and the match too. Britain's best table tennis player will next feature in the team event, in which he will be joined by Liam Pitchford and Andrew Baggaley.

Drinkhall made a positive start and initially matched his opponent shot for shot. The 22-year-old, favouring his forehand once more, attacked with intent to initially move into a 4-3 lead. That seemed to spark Ovtcharov into action, however, as he found an added fizz that belied his jab-like arm movement and claimed the next seven points.

Drinkhall lodged something of a fightback thereafter to bring the score to 10-8, prompting a surprisingly early timeout from the German's coach. It seemed to do the trick as Ovtcharov took the next point and, subsequently, the opening game.

Drinkhall came out fighting at the beginning of the next, but, after building an early head of steam, found himself being overpowered by his opponent.

The German thrived in longer rallies and Drinkhall's frustration manifested itself in a brief complaint to the umpire. He never recovered from that and eventually surrendered a 2-0 lead as Ovtcharov again showed his ability to win the crucial points.

That was a skill he did not require early in the third as he kept the home favourite at arms' length throughout, answering every question asked by Drinkhall's loops. Indeed, he often negated that threat by forcing the right-hander on to his backhand, which was far less effective.

Drinkhall, however, never gave up and, having stayed close throughout, profited from some good fortune that levelled matters by delivering a thumping cross-table forehand and taking a 9-8 lead. But Ovtcharov took the next after a long rally and Drinkhall missed with a smash before a fault on serve meant he surrendered the game.

That was always likely to be the end for the Brit - and so it proved as the most one-side game of the match sealed Ovtcharov's passage to the last 16.

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