Liam Pitchford vows that he has much more to come

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It was a bad tournament but there’s a lot more to come from me – that was the verdict of Liam Pitchford after his World Championships campaign came to a disappointing end.

Pitchford was defeated by Iran’s world No 128 Nima Alamian in the men’s singles first round and went out of the doubles in the last 64 alongside Paul Drinkhall.

Pitchford, world ranked 51, led twice against Alamian and then recovered from 3-2 down only to see his opponent win 4-3 (8-11, 13-11, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10, 10-12, 11-9).

“I should have won the second game to go 2-0 up and that might have made it a different game, and I had a two-point lead in the last game,” said the Chesterfield athlete.

“He played well and I missed a few balls I would normally expect to make.”

In the doubles, Pitchford & Drinkhall had easy wins in the two qualifying rounds, overcoming Ocean Belrose & Kenji Hotan of French Polynesia 3-0 (11-1, 11-7, 11-2) and Samuel Galves & Emil Santos of the Dominican Republic also 3-0 (11-6, 11-5, 11-6).

But they were beaten 4-2 (10-12, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 15-13, 11-6) in the first round proper by India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta & Sathiyan Gnanasekaran.

Pitchford said: “We weren’t really tested in the opening rounds but we went into the match against the Indians fairly confident. We had our chances. We were 2-1 and 10-9 up and we had set points in the fifth. Our high level was higher than theirs, but they were a bit more solid.”

Pitchford feels an arm injury earlier this year had set him back after a good first half of the season and that he had not quite been able to get back to his peak form.

“It’s been an up-and-down six months for me,” he admitted. “I had an injury and I think I’ve lost a bit of confidence in my game and was doubting myself a bit and how the arm had recovered.

“The last few weeks I’ve been feeling a lot better and have been practising much better. Maybe it came a few weeks too early for me to be in my best form.

“I’m positive for the future. I’ve got a good team around me and know where I want to go and what I need to do to get there.

“It’s a bad tournament but it’s not the end of my career – there’s a lot more World Championships to play in.”

Pitchford is now planning a well-earned break before preparations for next season, which will include playing in the new Indian Table Tennis League in July.