by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The Rio 2016 Olympic Games is the first time that Sweden has been represented in an Olympic Games since Åsa Svensson and Marie Svensson, who are no relations competed in Sydney in 2000.
Hard Fought Matches
Playing with her usual well-orchestrated top style of play, Matilda Ekholm, true to her character taking no risks, had justified her no.30 seeded position by beating Wu Yue of the United States in four games (9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 11-6, 12-10).
A hard fought encounter, it was even harder for Li Fen, the no.25 seed, she almost bid farewell. In the sixth game, she had to save one match point against the Slovak Republic’s Barbora Balazova before emerging victorious in a full distance seven games contest (11-8, 6-11, 7-11, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 11-7).
“It is really great that both have won, they were both nervous and it was their first match in the whole tournament”, said Thomas von Scheele, the Swedish national coach who had advised both Matilda Ekholm and Li Fen.
“They are both in good shape, especially mentally”, stressed Thomas von Scheele. “Neither of them played their best but the attitude they displayed was top level.”
Attitude and in the case of Li Fen, there was a high degree of intelligence.
“At the match point down in the sixth game she changed her service; she won the point outright”, concluded Thomas von Scheele. It showed just clearly Li Fen was thinking.
Furthermore it endorsed the opinion of the greatest Swede of all, Jan-Ove Waldner.
Prior to the commencement of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, he sat in a press conference; he was asked what he thought was the most factor when competing in an Olympic Games final, he was quite clear.
“Mental”, said quite simply; it applies in the final; it also applies in round one, round two, round three et al.