Liam Pitchford and Paul Drinkhall both exited the Saudi Smash in the round of 64.

Pitchford (WR 25), who has not played for a few weeks because of injury, was up against Germany’s Ruwen Filus and made a slow start, losing the first 11-3 and going down 7-1 in the second.

He fought back to 7-6 and eventually lost that one 11-7, but there were signs the ring-rust was dropping away as he was neck-and-neck all the way in the third, leading at several points.

But Filus (WR 74) won two points in a row at 9-9 to go through to face Lin Shidong of China (WR 15) in the last 32.

Earlier, Drinkhall (WR 121), who battled through three qualifying ties to reach the main draw, made a blistering start against Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu, winning the first eight points and taking the first game 11-1.

But the world No 50 pulled away from 7-7 to win the second game and was always ahead from that point as he won 3-1 to set up a tie against world No 1 Wang Chuqin of China.

Pitchford & Drinkhall withdrew from the Men’s Doubles as Pitchford continues to manage a shoulder injury.

In the Mixed Doubles, Pitchford & Anna Hursey were defeated in three by Alexis Lebrun & Jia Nan Yuan of France in the last 32 – the only glimmer of turning it around was when they led the second 8-6.


Men’s Singles
Round of 64

Ruwen Filus (GER) btg Liam Pitchford 3-0 (11-3, 11-7, 11-9)
Ovidiu Ionescu (ROU) bt Paul Drinkhall 3-1 (1-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-3)

Mixed Doubles
Round of 32
Alexis Lebrun & Jia Nan Yuan (FRA) bt Liam Pitchford & Anna Hursey (WAL) 3-0 (11-4, 11-9, 11-5)