Paul Drinkhall at the 2016 PG Mutual National Championships

Paul’s off to a winning start in Rio Qualification

Author:
Jamie Gordon

Publish date:

Please note - this news article was published more than four years ago. Some of the information contained may no longer be correct.

Paul Drinkhall has opened his Rio Olympic Qualification Event campaign with 4-3 victory over Florent Lambiet and 4-0 victory over Ibrahim Gunduz.

Drinkhall v Lambiet

Representing Team GB, Drinkhall, who is ranked #68 in the world, made hard work of his first group stage match. His opponent, Beligum’s Florent Lambiet, is ranked 133 places lower in the world rankings at #201.

Getting off to a slow start, Paul lost the first two sets 5-11 and 6-11 respectively.

However the 2016 National Champion managed to find good form in the third, fourth and fifth sets – 11-8 , 11-5, 11-7 – to gain the lead in the match 3-2.

A tense sixth set saw Drinkhall save six game points, but he was unable to save the seventh, eventually losing it 11-13 and sending the match into a final deciding set.

Deuce in the final game was a nervous affair for any Team GB spectator, but fortunately it was Drinkhall who came out on top as he took the game 13-11.

Paul will be glad to get an opening victory under his belt, especially against an opponent who he has previously lost to in Sweden (2-4 at the 2014 Swedish Open).

Speaking to the ETTU, Paul said: “Two years ago Florent beat me at the Swedish open, but we played three or four matches at that time in Belgium’s League.”

“He is very tough adversary.”

“Today I was on the top of the game most of the time. I gave him too many balls, by making easy mistakes, which is unusual for me. Although I was not afraid in the close situation, because I always felt that I was controlling the game.”

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Drinkhall v Gunduz

Paul faced Ibrahim Gunduz in his second match of the Rio 2016 Qualifying Event. In contrast to the opening match, Paul’s second match of the day was a far more straight forward affair.

The GB player made light work of his Turksish opponent, who is ranked #302 in the world, defeating him in straight sets (11-4, 11-9, 11-6, 11-8).

It means Paul now leads his qualification group with two wins from two matches.

He will be looking to continue his 100% record tomorrow against Spanish opponent, Carlos Machado. Their match will be at 11.40am tomorrow (Tuesday) – UK time.

Another victory will guarantee him through to the main stages of the competition, where he will join fellow GB player Liam Pitchford – who automatically progressed through the group stages as he is seeded in the top #16 of the competition.

As it stands:

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As it stands (click to update)

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