Paul Drinkhall won 12-10 in a decider against world No 69 Jules Rolland to claim a place in the main draw of the Saudi Smash.

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In a tight match against the Frenchman, Drinkhall (WR 121) missed two game points and saved one before losing the first 14-12, but hit back from 9-6 down to take the second 12-10 on his second game point.

The third and fourth were both won 11-8 – Drinkhall first moving ahead and then Rolland taking it to a decider.

Three successive points from 3-3 put Drinkhall in charge, and he maintained the lead until 9-7, when Rolland took three in a row.

However, he then put his match point serve into the net and Drinkhall made him pay the price as he took the next two points to seal an important victory which gives him a chance to earn important world ranking points in the main draw.

His opponent is Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu (WR 50) and the match is scheduled at 11.35am UK time on Table 3.

Paul Drinkhall celebrates against Jules Rolland

On Thursday, Drinkhall picked up a superb 3-0 victory over world No 65 Yang Wang in the first qualifying round.

Drinkhall was 9-7 down in the first, but took four points on the trot to win the game, and never looked back against his Slovakian opponent.

He took charge of the second with runs of five and then four points, and led the third 3-0 and 8-1 as he went on to win 3-0 (11-9, 11-7, 11-4).

He faced another Slovakian, Lubomir Pistej (WR 90) in the second qualifying round and won in four games on Friday morning – recovering from losing the first.

Drinkhall joins Liam Pitchford in the main draw. England’s No 1, currently No 35 in the world, has been drawn against Ruwen Filus of Germany (WR 74) at 4.45pm UK time on Saturday, on Table 3.

Meanwhile, Tin-Tin Ho and Wales’ Anna Hursey went out in the qualifying stage.

Ho (WR 168) was defeated 3-0 (11-7, 11-5, 13-11) by Serbia’s Izabela Lupulesku (WR 127) in the first qualifying round of the Women’s Singles.

Ho led at the start of the first, before a run of six out of seven points put Lupulesku in charge. Ho saved a match point at 9-10 in the third, and then missed a game point at 11-10 as her opponent took her second match point to progress to the next round.

Wales’ Anna Hursey (WR 96) lost 3-2 (11-8, 11-4, 6-11, 9-11, 11-9) to France’s Audrey Zarif (WR 106).

Drinkhall will again face Pistej in the Men’s Doubles – he and Pitchford have been drawn against the Slovakian and his partner Baldwin Chan of Hong Kong in the last 32.

Pitchford & Hursey will play Alexis Lebrun & Jia Nan Yuan of France in the last 32 of the Mixed Doubles at 11am UK time on Saturday on Table 2.

Tin-Tin Ho in action in Jeddah


Men’s Singles
Qualifying round 1

Paul Drinkhall bt Yang Wang (SVK) 3-0 (11-9, 11-7, 11-4)

Qualifying round 2
Drinkhall bt Lubomir Pistej (SVK) 3-1 (7-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-8)

Qualifying round 3
Drinkhall bt Jules Rolland (FRA) 3-2 (12-14, 12-10, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10)

Women’s Singles
Qualifying round 1

Audrey Zarif (FRA) bt Anna Hursey 3-2 (11-8, 11-4, 6-11, 9-11, 11-9)
Izabela Lupulesku (SRB) bt Tin-Tin Ho 3-0 (11-7, 11-5, 13-11)