by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
China’s Ma Long and Zhang Jike the Men’s Singles finalists at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games suffered an opening round defeat; they were beaten by the Swedish partnership formed by Kristian Karlsson and Mattias Karlsson (5-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-3).
The combination of the left handed Kristian Karlsson and the right handed Mattias Karlsson who uses short pimpled rubber on the forehand, proved irresistible, very much replicating the form they had displayed at the 2012 European Champions in Herning, Denmark, when concluding matters as silver medallists.
“We had nothing to lose, we were under no pressure; a few years ago we had played Ma Long and Wang Hao; we lost 11-9 in the deciding games. Also, we had beaten Ma Lin and Wang Hao, so we knew that we could compete against a strong Chinese partnership. Mattias is very good with short play, he creates opening for me, it proved a winning formula today”, Kristian Karlsson
“The fact that I use short pimples helps our partnership; it means there are always changes of spin. Also, Kristian Karlsson being left handed, gives me a great deal of space to play; partnering a right hander can by very cramped”, Mattias Karlsson.
Success for one Swedish pairing in the lower half of the Men’s Doubles draw contrary to seeding; there was success for one more combination from the Nordic country but in a much closer contest.
Pär Gerell and Anton Källberg combined to beat Qatar’s Ahmad Al-Mohannadi and Li Ping, the no.8 seeds (12-10, 9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10).
Two unexpected outcomes, in fact in the lower half of the draw it was a clean sweep for the qualifiers.
China’s Fan Zhendong and Liang Jingkun beat Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit and Wong Chun Ting, the no.5 seeds (9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-3); Tristan Flore and Emmanuel Lebesson of France, ended the aspirations of Russia’s Alexey Liventsov and Mikhail Paikov, the no.3 seed (10-12, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5).
Upsets and on another day major news but in Doha, totally upstaged by Kristian Karlsson and Mattias Karlsson.