English no.2 Paul Drinkhall has retained his men’s singles title at the English National Table Tennis Championships after defeating no.1 Liam Pitchford at Ponds Forge yesterday.
Drinkhall took the last four sets against the current English no.1, winning 11-4, 11-6, 11-3, 11-3 after losing the first 7-11.
The first game started with both players climbing steadily to 3-3, with Pitchford taking the upper hand, causing a panicked Drinkhall to overshoot on game point and lose 7-11.
But the twenty-year-old powered through the second winning 11-4, punctuating the winning points with his signature victory cry “choy!”
After losing the second set, Pitchford began to look increasingly uncomfortable. Yet another show of supreme dominance from Drinkhall secured the third set 11-6. An exasperated Pitchford then tossed his bat onto the table before turning to talk tactics with his trainer.
Drinkhall seized his new found momentum in the fourth, confidently winning the first five points with ease. Pitchford struggled to claw back just a few points, and gestured to the sky in frustration as Drinkhall took the set 11-3.
The English no.1 looked resigned to defeat in the fifth, shaking his head and laughing at his own errors. With a final “choy!” Drinkhall took the match 4-1.
Drinkhall commented that he knew his match against Pitchford was always “going to be tough.” He said: “I just kept fighting, found a tactic that worked and kept punishing him with that same tactic.”
A downbeat Pitchford reflected: “I’ve been playing well this morning. I don’t know what happened. I am tired, it’s been a long day.”