by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Arguably it was not the most spectacular contest of the year, more one of grit and determination.
Success for Tilda Johansson and there was an air of revenge; they had met just over three years ago in the same stage of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event at the GAC Group 2013 ITTF World Tour Zagreb Open. On that occasion Katsiaryna Baravok had won in three straight games (11-8, 11-6, 11-6).
“Both her and me won a lot with either our service or our returns. There was not too much open play and the points were pretty short; I tried to control the game and not let her dictate the rhythm and tempo with her backhand; finding the right angles was the key for my win.” Tilda Johansson
Delight for Tilda Johansson but it was the opposite emotion for her compatriots in the opening matches in the Under 21 Women’s Singles event; the greatest disappointment being experienced by Linda Bergström.
At no.52 on the current Under 21 Women’s World Rankings, the fifth highest rated player on initial phase duty, she was beaten in three straight games by Korea’s Ji Eunchae (11-7, 11-2, 11-3).
No stranger to combatting the defensive art, Ji Eunchae has not been absent from the international scene for over a year and thus her World ranking has lapsed; notably in June 2015, she reached no.56 on the Under 21 Women’s World Rankings. The defeat experienced by Linda Bergström was in reality no major upset.
Similarly, for Ellen Holmsten, Flippa Bergand, Erika Front and Christina Källberg there were defeats.
Ellen Holmsten was beaten by Alina Nikitchanka, like Katsiaryna Baravok from Belarus (11-7, 10-12, 12-10, 11-7), Flippa Bergand suffered at the hands of Kim Vermaas of the Netherlands (12-14, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8).
Likewise, Erika Front lost to Japan’s Mizuki Morizono (11-9, 11-7, 11-2) whilst for Christina Källberg it was defeat when facing Alina Arlouskaya, also from Belarus (11-5, 11-4, 12-14, 11-5).
Play continues in the Under 21 Women’s Singles event later in the day.
The opening day at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open