Sam Walker pulled off a thrilling comeback to beat Germany’s Benedikt Duda at the Czech Open today, but then went out of the competition in the final preliminary round.
Walker found himself 2-0 and 3-1 down to the world No 46 Duda, but demonstrated his composure and class to take the fifth and sixth sets 11-4 and 11-7 respectively, completing his fightback by taking the decider 11-9.
However, bidding to join eighth seed Liam Pitchford in the main draw, Walker was defeated 4-2 by Cristian Pletea of Romania, the world No 115 who won bronze at the World Junior Championships last year.
Paul Drinkhall narrowly lost to opponent Alexander Shibaev 2-4 (12-10, 14-16, 11-8, 8-11, 8-11, 3-11) in the third of four preliminary rounds as the Russian, ranked No 65, proved too strong towards the later stages of the match.
Shibaev now has the chance to make it a double English scalp after he was drawn to face Pitchford in the last 32. The match is at 7.30pm UK time tomorrow on table 1 – click here to watch live (registration required).
Drinkhall could savour success in the men’s doubles, however, alongside Tom Jarvis. The pair were losing 2-0 to Alexandru Cazacu of Romania & Lorencio Lupulesku of Serbia, but turned it around in a tight third game, which they took 14-12. That was the launchpad for taking the next two games 11-5, and 11-3.
However, they ran into an in-form Chinese pair in the final preliminary round, missing out on a place in the last 16 as they went down 3-0 to Zhao Zihao & Zhu Linfeng.
Walker & David McBeath are also out, beaten in three tight sets by Swedish pair Anton Kallberg & Truls Moregard in the first preliminary round.
Tin-Tin Ho & Karoline Mischek of Austria, who together won European Under-12 gold this year, went out at the first hurdle of the women’s doubles at the hands of a Portuguese pair, the match hinging on the second game, which their opponents took 15-13 on their way to a 3-0 victory.
Jarvis, who teamed up with Charlotte Carey of Wales, bowed out of the mixed doubles with defeat against Marcos Freitas (WR 24) and Fu Yu (WR 36) of Portugal.
Preliminary round 3
Sam Walker bt Benedikt Duda (GER) 4-3 (6-11, 3-11, 11-3, 7-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-9)
Alexander Shibaev (RUS) bt Paul Drinkhall 4-2 (10-12, 16-14, 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-3)
Preliminary round 4
Cristian Pletea (ROU) bt Walker 4-2 (11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-5)
Preliminary round 1
Anton Kallberg & Truls Moregard bt David McBeath & Sam Walker 3-0 (11-9, 15-13, 11-9)
Paul Drinkhall & Tom Jarvis bt Alexandru Cazacu (ROU) & Lorencio Lupulesku (SRB) 3-2 (4-11, 10-12, 14-12, 11-5, 11-3)
Preliminary round 2
Zhao Zihao & Zhu Linfeng (CHN) bt Drinkhall & Jarvis 3-0 (11-4, 11-3, 11-7)
Leila Oliveira & Jieni Shao (POR) bt Tin-Tin Ho & Karoline Mischek (AUT) 3-0 (11-7, 15-13, 11-6)
Preliminary round 1
Marcos Freitas & Fu Yu (POR) bt Tom Jarvis & Charlotte Carey (WAL) 3-1 (11-9, 9-11, 11-4, 11-6)