by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Portugal’s João Geraldo, the top seed alongside Japan’s Mizuki Oikawa, the no.3 seed and England’s Sam Walker, the next in the order of merit, all perished.
João Geraldo was beaten by Frenchman, Enzo Angles, the runner up one week earlier in Austria. He lost in four games (11-7, 10-12, 12-10, 11-4), a result that has a resounding effect on his aspirations.
He started the tournament at no.10 (332 points) on the ITTF World Tour Under 21 Men’s Standings, the chances of a top seven finish to gain an invitation to the Seamaster, Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Doha, is now a forlorn hope.
A four games defeat for João Geraldo, it was a full distance reverse Mizuki Oikawa, as it was for Sam Walker. Mizuki Oikawa was beaten by Chinese Taipei’s Sun Chia-Hung (13-15, 11-7, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7); Sam Walker experienced defeat at the hands of the host nation’s Carl Ahlander-Johansson (11-6, 11-8, 10-12, 6-11, 11-9).
“I was controlled the match from the beginning when we played forehand topspin against each other and also with service and returns, when it came to backhand he was stronger than me. He was a bit lucky at the end but I had had my fair part of lucky points too so I don’t think it was so unlucky even if at the time feels a bit rough. He also played better and better and was getting closer time all the time. Before the deciding game my coach, Marcus Sjöberg and I figured out that I should serve a little bit longer the earlier to push Walker away from the table and give me more time to attack after his returns. Playing at home in Sweden helps a lot. Many people were cheering for me and I could feel the support; this is the best tournament to play for me, nothing beats it, it’s so much fun”, Carl Ahlander-Johansson
Agony for Sam Walker, beaten by the narrowest of margins, it was the same for another prominent name. Korea’s Kim Minhyeok, the no.8 seed, the winner on home soil at the ITTF World Junior Circuit tournaments in 2013 in Daejeon and the following year in Yeosu, he suffered defeat at the hands of Puerto Rico’s Brian Afanador (11-7, 3-11, 9-11, 11-5, 15-13).
Defeat for Kim Minhyeok but there was salvation for Korea; Park Ganghyeon, the player who had beaten Enzo Angles in the Austrian final and the no.5 seed in Stockholm, accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Lai Chi-Chen.
Furthermore, the result keeps his aspirations of a place in the Seamaster, Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals very much alive. He commenced play at no.8 (362 points) in the ITTF World Tour Under 21 Men’s Singles Standings.
Success for Kim Minhyeok; amongst the elite names, there were also successes for Frenchman Can Akkuzu at no.9 (354 points) on the Standings and for Japan’s Kenta Tazoe.
Can Akkuzu, the no.6 seed, beat Sweden’s Oscar Perman (7-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-5); Kenta Tazoe, the no.7 seed, ousted Singapore’s Ethan Poh Shao Feng (11-4, 11-6, 11-3).