by Simon Daish
The first Swedish player to win the Men’s Singles trophy at an individuals World Championships was Stellan Bengtsson, who won the title aged just 18 at the time following his victory over Shigeo Itoh in 1971.
Since then the title has gone to Sweden on three further occasions with Jörgen Persson standing triumphant in Chiba City in 1991, and Jan-Ove Waldner won Men’s Singles gold twice at Dortmund 1989 and Manchester 1997.
Sweden has not appeared on the medals podium at an individuals World Championships since 1999 when Waldner achieved a bronze medal finish, but could the 2017 World Championships be about change all of that?
Four players will represent Sweden in the Men’s Singles category in Düsseldorf, with Kristian Karlsson heading the list.
Appearing at his third individuals World Championships, Kristian Karlsson will be hoping to set a new personal best result on his visit to Düsseldorf having reached the Round of 64 at Suzhou 2015.
Kristian Karlsson has shown on occasion that he has exactly what it takes to challenge the world’s finest table tennis stars, with arguably his strongest showing coming at the Liebherr 2016 Men’s World Cup in Saarbrücken.
The Swedish player defeated the likes of Germany’s Dimtrij Ovtcharov (6-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5,13-11) and France’s Simon Gauzy (5-11, 11-8, 11-4, 10-12, 11-7, 8-11, 12-10) before going on to achieve a top four finish.
Another Swedish talent who could be set to produce a positive outing at the upcoming World Championships is Mattias Karlsson, who is looking to negotiate the Round of 128 in the Men’s Singles competition for the first time.
Mattias Karlsson made opening round exits from the Men’s Singles main draw at both Rotterdam 2011 and Suzhou 2015, but an appearance in an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles final for the first time at the 2016 Swedish Open and a strong performance in the ITTF World Rankings table over the past couple of years will give the 25-year-old confidence ahead of Düsseldorf 2017.
The most experienced Swedish player heading to the tournament is 34-year-old Pär Gerell who made his individuals World Championships debut in 2005, while Borussia Düsseldorf’s very own Anton Källberg also makes the selection list for his country.