Rajiv Ouseph is through to the men’s singles knockout stages with a comfortable two-game victory over Japan’s Sho Sasaki in Rio.

With both Ouseph and Sasaki having beaten Czech Republic’s Petr Koukal in their opening Group I match, the tension of this must-win clash showed in the first game.

But the 29-year-old Ouseph started impressively, racing to an 11-5 lead by the break with an array of quality hitting.

The game wasn’t to finish quite so straightforwardly, however, with Sasaki fighting back strongly to take an 13-12 lead – with the tightness showing exactly why the two held a 3-3 head-to-head record prior to the Olympic Games.

But a pin-point Ouseph smash gave him a 15-13 advantage, eventually closing out the game 21-15 to hold a vital advantage.

And the momentum of the Team GB star carried through to game two, streaking into a 4-0 lead prior to reaching the halfway stage in a strong position at 11-4.

It was a lead Ouseph never looked like relinquishing, gliding his way across the court to prevail 21-15 21-9, reaching the last 16 in his second Olympic Games.

“I knew this was going to be the crucial game when the draw came out so I am very happy to have won and I am looking forward to the next round now,” said Ouseph.

“It looked comfortable but it wasn’t always that comfortable. I think the first set was quite crucial and when he came back a little bit at me it was important to stick it out there and be tough.”

He added: “It is about managing the occasion now because obviously the Olympics is every four years so I’ll try my best and work at that.

“Last time I was a bit nervous with it being my first Olympic Games experience and I was not sure how I should act or react and stuff.

“So having done this one time before I think it has helped me this time around and I will try and use that in the next round.”

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