Fifth seeds Paul Drinkhall and Joanna Parker coasted into the mixed doubles semi-finals at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi today with victory over Singapore pair Cai Xiaoli and Li Jiawei having beaten Wales’ Ryan Jenkins and Naomi Owen earlier in the day.
Drinkhall’s men’s singles hopes are also still alive and well following wins over Olanrewaju Jegede and Abishek Ravichandra in rounds two and three.
But the 20-year-old saw his men’s doubles hopes shattered when he and Darius Knight allowed a two-game lead to slip against Nigerians Monday Merotohun and Nasiru Jegede who went on to win a nail-biting five-setter, 9-11, 3-11, 11-7, 14-12, 13-11.
On madly busy Monday, Knight had already beaten Merotohun 4-2 in the singles and Drinkhall had wiped the floor with Olanrewaju Jegede, winning 4-0. But the English pair let complacency creep into their game.
After losing the close fourth set they were 10-8 up in the fifth but couldn’t close the match.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” said Knight. “We thought we had won already when we went 2-0 up and we relaxed. After that, we had that close set in the fourth which we lost as well.
“I am actually a little ill with a cold,” he added. “The schedule is very bad too and I’ve not even been able to have lunch till now. But we just have to get on with it.”
Knight battled on but things did not get any better for the Yorkshireman as he went out in round three of both the men’s singles and mixed doubles.
He and Kelly Sibley went out of the doubles after winning the first set against top seeds Gao Ning and Feng Tianwei of Singapore. They lost 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-6.
Gao is the man beaten by England’s tyro, 17-year-old Liam Pitchford in the team final on Saturday.
World number 292, Pitchford was beaten 4-0 today by Gao’s team-mate, the second seed Yang Zi in the men’s singles, and Andrew Baggaley followed him out of the tournament a round later after beating Nigeria’s Seun Ajetunobi 4-1 in the second round.
Baggaley and Pitchford are still in the running for the final stages of the men’s doubles, however. Baggaley has men’s doubles medals from each of the last two Commonwealth Games and having come through two rounds today he and Pitchford will need to overcome Cai Xiaoli and Ma Liang of Singapore in Tuesday’s quarter-final to stay on course for Baggeley’s Games hat-trick.
Daniel Reed lost 4-0 to Cai Xiaoli of Singapore in round three of the men’s singles having beaten another Nigerian Quadri Aruna 4-2 in round two, while in the women’s singles, Sibley beat yet another Nigerian, Offiong Edem, 4-2 in round two. Unfortunately for the 22-year-old student she lost 4-1 to Australian Zhenhua Tan the following round.
Hannah Hicks came up against tough opposition in the shape of India’s Madhurika Patkar. Hicks went out after losing 4-0, as did Parker a round later after going down 4-1 to Li Jiawei.
Parker did not fair much better in the women’s doubles as she and Sibley lost to the New Zealand pairing of Jenny Hung and Sun Yang. While England’s other female double-act Hicks and Karina Le Fevre lost to Lei Wei Beh and Sock Khim Ng of Malaysia.
In the wheelchair pool matches, Hannah Coulthurst beat Rose Chasang in three games, but lost 3-0 to Kata Nwaka Oputa from, yes, Nigeria, although Leanne Stephen had double success as she beat Kenya’s Jennifer Kamande 3-0 and India’s Bhavina Patel 3-1.
Coulthurst now sits fifth in the wheelchair group one table with one day of preliminary competition remaining while Stephen is fourth in group two.
On Tuesday, Drinkhall and Parker go in the mixed doubles semi-finals and Drinkhall is also flying solo in the quarter-final of the men’s singles, against Pitchford’s conqueror Yang Zi.
In the men’s doubles, Baggaley and Pitchford are flying the flag for England in the quarter-finals.