Liam Pitchford is relishing being back in the heat of battle after securing a bronze medal at the Europe Top 16 and says there is more he can do to find an even higher level.
Pitchford beat the top seed Truls Moregard in the quarter-finals, before going out 11-8 in a deciding game to European campion Qiu Dang in the semis.
But he was in good company on the podium alongside German legend Dimitrij Ovtcharov, silver medallist Dang and champion Darko Jorgic.
Pitchford only returned to the table this month after a break of several weeks, during which he recovered from an arm injury as well as looking after his wellbeing and recharging his batteries.
Despite hitting a high level in Montreux, he says there is still more to come as he heads into a busy period with the WTT Star Contender Goa this week, followed by the Singapore Smash next month.
“Overall, it was a positive tournament,” said Pitchford. “The semi-final was nip and tuck and could have gone either way. At 3-3, 8-8 he got a couple of nets, but that’s the way it goes. To be fair, I was lucky in the sixth.
“It was a scrappy match and I had some chances I didn’t take. It was a lot better than it has been but it wasn’t perfect and that’s one of the good things, that I know I’ve got a lot to work on but I’m still competing with the top 10 players in the world.
“If I keep working hard and enjoying it, I know that the next time it might go my way.
“I’m disappointed to lose, but overall it’s been good. I’ve shown I can change up my tactics and play clever table tennis. I’m pleased with a bronze medal but I always want more.
“Third in Europe isn’t the worst – to come from where I was, not playing the whole of January and most of December – and beating the world No 6 and losing 4-3 to the No 9 or 10.
“I want to win those matches, of course, but it’s a stepping stone for me and has given me a lot of confidence.”
Pitchford is seeded into the main draw in Goa, where Sam Walker, Tom Jarvis and Tin-Tin Ho are also competing.
He said: “It’s another opportunity. I’ve got this tournament under my belt, I know where my game is and what I need to work on and I’m feeling good.
“It’s a busy schedule but I’m enjoying playing again and being in a battle – that’s the biggest thing, that I’m enjoying being in that fight.
“Last year, there’s no way I’m winning the match against Truls or getting to 4-3 against Dang. It’s starting to feel like I’m coming back to where I was before and taking a break helped that.
“I’ve always loved competing and I hate losing – and I’d lost that feeling. Now I feel I’m giving myself a chance.”