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The perfect Paul Drinkhall gave a table tennis clinic winning both his singles and doubles matches against Cyprus to help England qualify for the men’s team semi-finals at the Commonwealth Games.
The Middlesbrough star started this side’s quarter-final perfectly alongside doubles partner Tom Jarvis, winning 12-10, 11-3, 11-2 over Christos Sava and Sharpel Elia before sweeping the latter 11-6 , 11-8. , 11-4 in singles as the hosts ran out 3-0 winners.
The dominating performance now puts the 32-year-old within reach of a seventh Commonwealth medal, but he knows the team has more to come after a lackluster opening.
“It went well,” said Drinkhall, who won bronze in the team event at Gold Coast 2018.
“We started off a bit slow in doubles which you would half expect as we came out of the group very comfortably and these guys were on a higher level.
“They put us under a bit of pressure at the start and we didn’t handle it too well but we relaxed into the game, we showed what we were capable of.
“We will have to start at this point tomorrow in the semi-finals.”
Drinkhall and Jarvis, alongside Liam Pitchford, were cheered on by a vocal crowd at the NEC, with every England point greeted with huge cheers.
The Teessider is full of praise for loyal spectators and was particularly happy to see a few in particular, as his children watched him as he put on a show in Birmingham.
“They’ve seen the Nationals a few times, but they haven’t seen me play much,” Drinkhall added. “It’s great to have them and all the family and friends here.
“It’s good to have the home support and we’ll need it going forward.”
Drinkhall sealed victory after teammate Pitchford edged past Marios Yiangou 11-5, 11-3, 11-6 in the second game of the day.
Pitchford is ranked No. 20 in the world and will now be looking to add a ninth Commonwealth medal to his collection.
A semi-final with Singapore on Monday stands in their way of a guaranteed medal, and Pitchford knows they will pass a tough test.
“Tomorrow is probably another step, so we have to be ready again,” said the 29-year-old.
“They’re all good players and they have solid doubles. We have to get the first point on the board and put them under pressure.
“They’re a bit more inexperienced than us, so if we can capitalize on that and put them under pressure from the start, we have a good chance.”
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