Sam Walker upset the world No 43 to follow Liam Pitchford and Paul Drinkhall in taking a step nearer the main draw of the German Open today.

But all three face tough tasks ahead – the event is officially the toughest in World Tour history, with 17 of the world’s top 20 men and 15 of the top 20 women competing in Berlin.

It means Drinkhall, Pitchford and Walker all started in the preliminary round of 128 – and Danny Reed in the previous round of 256. The target is to reach the preliminary last 16 to join the top 16 seeds in the main draw.

Walker was handed a tough draw against Korea’s Kim Donghyun – winner of the Bulgarian Open five months ago – but made light of the 122 difference between their rankings to race into a 3-0 lead.

He saw his opponent take the next two, but was able to pull out victory in the sixth and next faces world No 66 Kirill Skachkov of Russia at 11.30am UK time tomorrow.

Pitchford, ranked No 61, took a 3-0 lead over world No 192 Filip Zeljko of Croatia, only to see his opponent take the next two. But the Chesterfield ace took the sixth to close out victory.

Drinkhall, the world No 70, faced No 183 Chia-Hung Sun of Taipei and found himself 2-0 down before asserting his class to take the next four.

In the next round – the preliminary round of 64 – Pitchford will face world No 31 Li Ping of Qatar, with Drinkhall up against Austria’s No 53-ranked Weixing Chen. Both start at 10.40am UK time on Thursday.

Danny Reed celebrates his opening victory in Berlin. Picture: ITTF/Rémy Gros
Danny Reed celebrates his opening victory in Berlin. Picture: ITTF/Rémy Gros

Reed, the world ranked No 203, was first in action, facing No 223 Dennis Klein of the host nation on the show court Table 1.

He saved three game points in the first on his way to clinching it 15-13 and was never seriously troubled after that, despite losing the third to his 19-year-old opponent.

However, world No 70 Grigory Vlasov of Russia ended Reed’s interest in the next round, despite the Teessider battling back from 3-0 down to close the gap to 3-2.

Click here to watch Danny’s opening victory over Dennis Klein


Men’s Singles
Preliminary Rounds
Round of 256
Danny Reed bt Dennis Klein (GER) 4-1 (15-13, 11-9, 8-11, 11-1, 11-7)

Round of 128
Liam Pitchford bt Filip Zeljko (CRO) 4-2 (11-6, 13-11, 11-9, 11-13, 8-11, 11-8)
Paul Drinkhall bt Chia-Hung Sun (TPE) 4-2 (7-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6)
Grigory Vlasov (RUS) bt Danny Reed 4-2 (11-4, 11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6)
Sam Walker bt Donghyun Kim (KOR) 4-2 (11-9, 11-4, 11-6, 12-14, 7-11, 11-6)