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Paul Drinkhall has medals on his mind, but knows it is just one point at a time if he wants to add an elusive singles title to his seven Commonwealth medals.
The Middlesbrough ace already has one from the 2022 Games, a bronze in the men’s team, but is playing the kind of tennis that will have others standing up and taking notice.
The 32-year-old was in complete control as he beat Zhe Yu Chew of Singapore 4-0 to wrap up a day that also saw him progress to the semi-finals of the men’s doubles with Liam Pitchford.
Drinkhall is reigning gold medallist in that event, and will hope to make it two golds this time on home soil.
“I’ve been thinking about medals for the past few years but you can’t take your mind off the next point,” said Drinkhall.
“I’m in a good place but everyone who’s got to the quarter-finals is probably thinking the same thing.
“One point at a time and hopefully that will be enough.”’
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, comprises of over 400 athletes, all vying for medal success.
Drinkhall raced into a three-set lead but was made to work for the all-important fourth in front of a strong crowd at the NEC in Birmingham.
But Chew could do little to stop the irrepressible Drinkhall, who appears to be travelling like a freight train towards another medal match, with one already booked in the doubles.
The Middlesbrough player now faces Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna on Saturday morning, and Drinkhall is feeling confident in his game.
“In any sport, things can change with one point or one slight doubt in your mind, so I had to keep going,” he added.
“The last set was closer and if he’d taken that, it could have been a different story.
“I feel I’ve been playing a good level for the last couple of months and I’m managing to keep that up.
“We’ve done it before, it’s just about managing time, food, liquids, making sure you stay on top of it all.”
Drinkhall was roared on once more by the home crowd, with the six-time English champion revelling in the adulation.
“I always enjoy good atmospheres, home or away. Rio Olympics were amazing, as were London and here,” said Drinkhall. “Long may it continue.”
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