Injured Liam Pickford suffers shock defeat
Liam Pitchford, hampered by a hand injury, suffered a surprise defeat in the first round of the WTT Contender event in Doha, Qatar, going down in four games to world No 144 Andreas Levenko.
His Austrian opponent, who had beaten Pitchford's team-mate Paul Drinkhall in the qualifying rounds, continued his rich vein of form to win 3-1 (11-5, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7) in the last-32 clash.
Chesterfield athlete Pitchford, the world No 15, said after the match that an injury to his right thumb, suffered in training in England before travelling to Qatar was still causing problems and he was unable to grip the bat properly or to generate power without pain.
As a result of the injury, he and Drinkhall pulled out of their scheduled last-16 doubles tie against Iranian duo Nima Alamian & Noshad Alamiyan.
Pitchford is hoping the injury will clear up sufficiently for the WTT Star Contender tournament and World Olympic Qualifying Tournament which follow this event.