Liam Pitchford is aiming to continue where he left off in 2023 as the WTT circuit starts up again in a year when ranking points are all-important, with the Paris Olympics just months away.

The England No 1 is competing at the Star Contender Doha, which starts on Monday, and later this month will be in action at another Star Contender in Goa, India.

Paul Drinkhall, Tom Jarvis and Tin-Tin Ho are also competing in Doha – follow the event on the WTT website.

The tournaments have star-studded entry lists, with most of the world’s top 20 competing in one or both, but Pitchford has a renewed belief that he can beat the best in the world after successes at WTT events last year.

He first reached the final of the Contender in Muscat, beating four world-class players before losing in a deciding game in a spellbinding final against world No 5 Hugo Calderano.

He then reached the last 16 of the WTT Champions Frankfurt, where he put up a good show in defeat against world No 2 Wang Chuqin.

Since then, Pitchford has continued working hard in the training hall both in England and at a training camp in Portugal this week as he and coach John Murphy plot the downfall of more of the world’s best.

Liam gives his thoughts ahead of the WTT Star Contender Doha

Pitchford said: “For me, it was about finding the right mindset again and knuckling down and working hard and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last six months or so.

“It’s paid off and it’s probably paid off sooner than I expected, which was nice. I’ve put a lot of work in, especially with John, and I can’t thank him enough. He goes everywhere, I don’t know how he does it, he’s away more than I am!

“Obviously six or seven months until Paris, it’s going to be a lot of events and it’s going to be busy again. Everyone’s trying to collect those points for Paris, so it’s going to be tough.

“But it’s something I’ve already mentally prepared for and I believe I’m at a level where I can compete with everybody again and obviously the goal is to beat them in Paris.

“My last couple of WTTs were very good, final in the Contender in Muscat and last 16 in the Champions and a close match against Wang Chuqin, so I’m looking to continue that.

“It’s going to be another busy year, a lot of events coming up. Me and John have got a plan – just going to go out there and hopefully enjoy it and get the wins and pick up the points needed for Paris.”

Qualifying for what would be his fourth Olympics is obviously the major target for Pitchford this year and the ranking points picked up in Muscat and Frankfurt will help. He will have the chance to earn a place via the continental qualifying tournaments in May, but there are likely to be several spots available based on world rankings.

“Qualifying is obviously always in the back of your mind,” acknowledged Pitchford. “I’m in a great place from the points I collected last few tournaments of the year, which puts me in a great position to qualify and takes a bit of pressure off.

“I’m defending points from the Europe Top 16 [Pitchford reached the semi-finals last year], but there’s a lot of opportunities to collect points in this coming period, so I’m not worried about that really.

“Doha is a Star Contender so there’s a lot of top-20 players there, but that’s what I want, to compete and test myself against the best players all the time. In Muscat, I proved that I can beat them or take them close, so bring them on!”