Injury ruined Liam Pitchford’s hopes, while Paul Drinkhall admitted he did not find his best level as England’s top two had a day of disappointment at WTT Feeder Manchester.

Pitchford, the top seed, was facing Italy’s Matteo Mutti (WR 190) and seemingly in control at 11-8, 4-1 when disaster struck and he went over on his left ankle.

He said afterwards he immediately knew it was bad – he soldiered on in the second game, which he lost 11-8, before calling a medical timeout. He battled on again, losing the third 11-7.

More strapping went on, but at 3-1 down in the fourth, he admitted defeat. With an eye on this month’s World Championships in Busan, the sight of him limping away is obviously a worry.

Drinkhall was up against Elias Ranefur (WR 286) and never quite go going against an opponent who made few mistakes.

Paul Drinkhall (picture by Pawel Meryn)

At 8-8 and 9-8 up in the second, there was a glimmer, but Ranefur was able to engineer a comeback to take that game and went on to win it 7, 9, 7.

Mutti will face Ranefur in the semi-finals, while in the bottom half, second seed Anders Lind (WR 29) of Denmark was also defeated, by Cho Daeseong (WR 70) of South Korea. His opponent will be Martin Allegro (WR 64), who saved three match points before defeating third seed Alvaro Robles (WR 46) of Spain 3-2 (9-11, 14-12, 5-11, 11-5, 13-11).

Matteo Mutti (picture by Pawel Meryn)

Earlier, Pitchford turned despair into hope for hundreds of home supporters with a fantastic comeback win to move into the quarter-finals.

Having lost the first two games 11-7 and 13-11, the second game ended controversially for Pitchford as he received a yellow-red to add to his earlier yellow.

That meant he started the third game 0-1 down, and when that become 1-4, the crowd may have feared the worst.

But Pitchford dug deep and found an inner steel, taking six of the next seven points and then four more in a row to reduce the deficit.

From then on, there looked to be only one winner as Pitchford drew strength from the reinvigorated spectators, while Walther seemed to visibly wilt, especially in the last as Pitchford completed a 3-2 (7-11, 11-13, 11-6, 11-6, 11-3) victory.

Martin Allegro celebrates his quarter-final victory (picture by Michael Loveder)

Drinkhall followed Pitchford into the last eight with a composed performance against Marcos Madrid (WR 72) of Mexico.

He was behind for much of the first, but saved four game points from 10-6, before missing two chances of his own. Another saved GP followed, but Madrid finally took a chance and won it 15-13.

But that was pretty much as good as it got for Madrid, who had beaten fourth seed Tiago Apolonia in the first round. From 6-6 in the second game, Drinkhall won five successive points and he was never behind in either of the third or fourth, which he won 6 and 7.

The third English representative in the last eight was Tom Jarvis, but he could not bridge the gap to second seed and world No 29 Anders Lind.

He played well, and when he won three in a row from 8-8 to take the second match, he was well in with a chance of progressing.

There was never much in the third, which Lind took 11-9 on his second game point, but the Dane led throughout the fourth, opening up a 5-0 lead which proved to be enough of a buffer when Jarvis worked his way back into the game – Lind eventually winning it 11-8 on his third match point.

Tom Jarvis congratulates Anders Lind at the end of their match (picture by Pawel Meryn)

In the Women’s Singles, Sophie Earley could not repeat her momentous victory of yesterday, when she ousted fourth seed Britt Eerland.

Up against Italy’s Debora Vivarelli (WR 139), the English youngster (WR 309) again gave everything and threatened an upset when she led 2-1, having blitzed the second 11-3 and saved four game points en route to winning the third 14-12.

However, her opponent went through the gears in the fourth and fifth, which she won for the loss of a combined seven points to move into the quarters and end British involvement.

The semi-finals will see top seed Lily Zhang take on Vivarelli, while Natalia Bajor of Poland faces Huang Yi-Hua of Chinese Taipei.

Italy’s Debora Vivarelli (picture by Pawel Meryn)


Women’s Singles
Round of 16

Debora Vivarelli (ITA) bt Sophie Earley 3-2 (11-8, 3-11, 12-14, 11-3, 11-4)

Men’s Singles
Round of 16

Liam Pitchford bt Ricardo Walther (GER) 3-2 (7-11, 11-13, 11-6, 11-6, 11-3)
Paul Drinkhall bt Marcos Madrid (MEX) 3-1 (13-15, 11-6, 11-6, 11-7)
Anders Lind (DEN) bt Tom Jarvis 3-1 (11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8)

Elias Ranefur (SWE) bt Drinkhall 3-0 (11-7, 11-9, 11-7)
Matteo Mutti (ITA) bt Pitchford 3-1 (8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-1)