Toby Penty roared into the elimination round of the men’s singles competition at Tokyo 2020 after a stunning straight-games win over Thai 14th seed Kantaphon Wangcharoen.
The 28-year-old had seen off Germany’s Kai Schaefer 21-18 21-11 in his opening match and looked full of confidence second time out, starting fast against Wangcharoen despite their match starting later than scheduled.
After taking an 18-14 lead, world No.56 Penty was pegged back to 19-19 but he held his nerve against an opponent ranked 38 places above him to take the first game 21-19.
With the match’s momentum in his favour victory never looked in doubt for Penty in the second, and having taken an 11-5 advantage into the interval he wrapped up the game 21-12, subsequently sealing top spot in Group K.
“I felt confident after the first match,” he said. “That went really well considering it was the first time I was playing at an Olympics, and it gave me a lot of confidence.
“I studied this game a lot last night and found a few things I thought I could exploit. I think the first set was crucial – once I got that it seemed to shake him a bit and I grew in confidence.
“I came into the Games wanting to embrace the experience. I didn’t know what to expect, but I trained really well beforehand and I felt really good in my mind and in my body. To get the win is amazing.”
A meeting with Danish third seed Anders Antonsen lies in store for Penty in the first knockout round, in Thursday’s afternoon session at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza (9.45am BST).
But despite acknowledging the tough task ahead, the Walton-on-Thames star is focused on enjoying his first appearance on sport’s greatest stage, with his latest display proving he can mix it with the world’s best.
He added: “I feel really acclimatised and comfortable here, but I can’t look too far ahead. I’ve gone from one quality player to a higher-level player, and now to an even-higher-level player.
“I just want to enjoy every match I get to play on court, and we’ll see what happens.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith saw their brave run in the mixed doubles come to an end at the quarter-final stage with defeat to Hong Kong’s Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet 21-13 21-18.
Kirsty Gilmour was also eliminated from the women’s singles at the group stage, after being beaten 21-9 21-18 by Japanese fourth seed, Akane Yamaguchi.