Paul Drinkhall lifted the mood with victory at the World Championships after gut-wrenching disappointment for both Tom Jarvis and Liam Pitchford in deciding seventh games earlier in the day.
Drinkhall beat Nigeria’s Olajide Omotayo in six to go through to the last 64, where he will be England’s only representative.
There was also defeat for Tin-Tin Ho in the Women’s Singles, at the hands of the eighth seed, and for two English doubles pairings today.
Drinkhall had to withstand a resilient opponent before taking charge from the fourth game onwards.
He took the first comfortably enough, but saw five game points come and go in the second as his opponent took it 15-13.
Drinkhall also held a game point in the third, which Omotayo (WR 157) won 12-10, but he powered through the fourth with six successive points from 5-5, and clinched the fifth 11-8 having taken his timeout at 10-8 after his opponent saved two game points.
It was 11-5 in the fifth to set up a tie against Filip Zeljko of Croatia (WR 146), who came from 3-1 down to defeat Germany’s Benedikt Duda (WR32), the 27th seed.
Earlier in the day, Jarvis was the first of the England men on court, against Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Sathiyan Gnanasekaran of India (WR 51)
There was never more than a point in it during the first, up to 9-9 when the Indian won two points in a row. The second saw Jarvis lead 8-6 but not take another point, but he stayed ahead all through the third to reduce the arrears – only for Gnanasekaran to produce the most dominant game of the match in the fourth, which he took 11-2.
The fifth was another tight one with no more than two points in it. Jarvis was the first to get a game point at both 10-9 and 11-10, then he saved two match points before eventually prevailing 15-13.
The sixth saw Jarvis go from 10-8 up to 10-11 down – but he saved that third match point and won it 13-11 to take it to a decider.
Any thoughts that the momentum had turned were dispelled as Gnanasekaran took a 4-0 lead and, though Jarvis closed to 5-4, that was as close as the Englishman could get.
Pitchford may reflect on missed opportunities after his match against Portugal’s Joao Geraldo slipped away in a seventh.
Pitchford, seeded 21, had a game point in the first and led the third 9-6, but lost both games, either side of claiming the second with ease.
A run of six points from 7-5 down saw him level again at 2-2, but Geraldo had a run of seven on his way to taking the fifth. Again, Pitchford levelled to force a decider.
He was 5-2 down at the change of ends, but clawed back into the lead at 6-5 and kept a point clear all the way to 9-8. That was a close as he got, saving two match points but not being able to bring up any of his own, and world No 46 Geraldo took his third chance to seal the match.
Ho always faced a hard task against the world No 10 Ying Han, the eighth seed here. Throw in the fact that her opponent is probably the best defender in the world and it made for an uphill battle all the way.
Ho battled gamely, as she always does, and got closer as the match went on, but Han brought up two match points in the fourth with the aid of a back edge and took her first opportunity to claim the victory.
In the Men’s Doubles, Jarvis & Sam Walker may have scented an upset when they took the first game against 11th seeds Ho Kwan Kit & Wong Chun Ting from Hong Kong.
But the higher-ranked pair took over and the English combination did not threaten to add another game to the tally as they went out in four.
Pitchford & Ho exited the Mixed Doubles at the first hurdle in three straight against Slovakian 13th seeds Lubomir Pistej & Barbora Balazova.
How to watch on Monday
On Monday, Ho is back in Women’s Doubles action alongside Austria’s Karoline Mischek, against 12th seeds Linda Bergstrom & Christina Kallberg of Sweden. They are scheduled to play on table 4 at midday UK time.
Drinkhall’s match against Zeljko is due on table 3 at 11.20am, while Pitchford & Drinkhall are in action in the last 32 of the Men’s Doubles against Nicolas Burgos & Gustavo Gomez of Chile. The match is scheduled on table 6 at 7.30pm.
Round of 128
Ying Han (GER) bt Tin-Tin Ho 4-0 (11-3, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8)
Round of 128
Joao Geraldo (POR) bt Liam Pitchford 4-3 (12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 5-11, 13-11)
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (IND) bt Tom Jarvis 4-3 (11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 11-2, 13-15, 11-13, 11-6)
Paul Drinkhall bt Olajide Omotayo 4-2 (11-6, 13-15, 10-12, 11-5, 11-8, 11-5)
Round of 64
Ho Kwan Kit & Wong Chun Ting (HKG) bt Tom Jarvis & Sam Walker 3-1 (6-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-5)
Round of 64
Lubomir Pistej & Barbora Balazova (SVK) bt Liam Pitchford & Tin-Tin Ho 3-0 (11-6, 11-3, 11-8)