by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
A good start vital, it was Joo Saehyuk, agreed by most as the greatest defensive player of the modern era, who gave Korea the start they needed. He beat Kristian Karlsson in four games (11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6).
“Kristian played with a lot of top spin, very heavy top spin; I had to keep defending, the best time for me to attack with my forehand was immediately after the serve.” Joo Saehyuk.
Very much Korea looks to Joo Saehyuk, the 38 year old being the one member of the Korean outfit with past Olympic experience.
First Olympic Games
Both Lee Sangsu and Jeoung Youngsik have ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles titles to their credit but the Olympic Games is another world; the reaction of coaches who you will see in other tournaments, most placid theyjump for joy when their players won a point.
Narrowest of Margins
In the second match of the fixture, both Marcus Sjöberg, the Swedish coach and Lee Chulseung, the Korean coach were and down as the seat was too hot for comfort!
A titanic struggle, one that enthralled the crowd in Riocentro Pavilion 3, saw Mattias Karlsson beat Lee Sangsu by the very narrowest of five game margins (11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 8-11, 12-10).
It was parity, tension mounted; the doubles was vital but is this not where both teams were limited? In Pär Gerell and Kristian Karlsson, Sweden had two left handers, not thought by many the ideal combination for doubles.
Equally, there was a similar dilemma for Korea; Joo Saehyuk is the defender. It was not a realistic option for him to partner either Lee Sangsu or Jeoung Youngsik.
The decision was that Pär Gerell partnered Mattias Karlsson; Jeoung Youngsik joined forces with Lee Sangsu; was the advantage not with Sweden, a right and left hander?
“I lost my singles match so I was a little tense before the match; Jeoung Youngsik calmed me down and gave me encouragement.” Lee Sangsu
Also, surely having beaten Lee Sangsu, Mattias Karlsson was full of confidence; the outcome was quite the reverse. Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu won in three straight games (11-2, 11-4, 11-7).
Korea in the ascendancy, Jeong Youngsik returned to the table to complete matters, he beat Kristian Karlsson in four games to conclude matters (11-4, 8-11, 11-3, 11-7).
“I really well prepared to play Kristian, we played last year on the ITTF World Tour at the Czech Open, I won a really close match in seven games, here I was prepared for a really tough match.” Jeoung Youngsik.
At the semi-final stage Korea meets China; the contest is scheduled to start at 3.00pm on Monday 15th August.