by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
An impressive performance and an upset not only in terms of seeding but also when previous results were taken into consideration; they had met on five previous occasions on the international scene. Mattias Karlsson had won only one of those encounters.
However, they had not met recently; the last meeting had been at the Harmony 2011 China Open in Suzhou, when Koki Niwa had won in three straight games in their Under 21 Men’s Singles encounter; the success coming one year after Mattias Karlsson had recorded his one win over Koki Niwa when prevailing in seven games at the quarter-final stage of the Men’s Singles event at the 2010 ITTF World Tour Austrian Open.
On home soil it was Austria revisited with the renowned powerful forehand, the side of the racket on which he uses short pimpled rubber, very much in evidence.
“I didn’t play so good in the first game. He is so fast but I got a couple of points at the end of the game and that gave me some confidence. He plays so fast but I managed to control him and then I could win. It is one of the best games I’ve played and one of the highest ranking players I have beaten. I destroyed at least one ball in this match; it feels great to play at home and it’s fantastic to get the support from the crowd it really helps me and gives me lots of confidence”, Mattias Karlsson.
Success for Mattias Karlsson against the odds and as the round came to a close, there was one more upset. Frenchman Stéphane Ouaiche, the no.29 seed, accounted for Ukraine’s Kou Lei, the no.14 seed, in a full distance seven games encounter, saving one match point in the sixth game (11-7, 11-13, 7-11, 11-6, 0-11, 12-10, 11-8).
“I have played Kou Lei many times before so I know his style, we have played five times before today and I have won two of those times so we are pretty even. Today I’m very happy to win since I saved a match point; it felt really nice. I like coming here to Sweden and I always play good here it’s a venue that suits me well”, Stéphane Ouaiche
Meanwhile, in the remaining third round contests the outcomes were as status advised; notably the travels of qualifiers Japan’s Jin Ueda and Germany’s Benedikt Duda both came to an end. Jin Ueda was beaten by England’s Liam Pitchford, the no.20 seed (8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-2, 11-4); Benedikt Duda experienced defeat at the hands of Jin Ueda’s colleague, Kenta Matsudaira in a full distance hard fought dramatic seven games duel (7-11, 8-11, 11-3, 5-11, 12-10, 12-10, 11-8).
Facing defeat, Kenta Matsudaira saved two match points; trailing by three games to one he rescued match point at 9-10 in the fifth game and again at the same score in the sixth game! Furthermore in the seventh he was down 3-7, before winning the next five points before eventually securing victory.
Success for Japan, there was further success for the Land of the Rising Sun in the guise of Yuya Oshima; the athletic 22 year old and the no.15 seed, overcame Germany’s Steffen Mengel, the no.31 seed (9-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7). Disappointment for Germany but for the country’s current leading player there was success; Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the top seed, ended the progress of Portugal’s João Monteiro, the no.18 seed (11-5, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6).
Mixed fortunes for Germany, it was the same for Portugal, later in the afternoon Marcos Freitas redressed the balance; the no.2 seed, he beat Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An, the no.9 seed (2-11, 17-15, 11-7, 11-4, 11-4).
Wins as status advised; it was the same in the one remaining third round Men’s Singles contest, Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, the no.11 seed, eventually overcame the defensive attributes of the Slovak Republic’s Wang Yang, the no.21 seed (11-7, 10-12, 11-5, 10-12, 15-17, 11-4, 11-7).
At the quarter-final stage Dimitrij Ovtcharov meets Liam Pitchford, Jonathan Groth opposes Mattias Karlsson; in the opposite half of the draw it is Yuya Oshima in opposition to Stéphane Ouaiche, Kenta Matsudaira versus Marcos Freitas.