21 May 2017

Silver medallists in Men’s Team Class 6-8 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, when beaten in the final by Ukraine’s Viktor Didukh and Maksym Nikolenko, it was one step higher for Emil Andersson and Linus Karlsson on the afternoon of Saturday 20th May at the 2017 World Para Championships in Bratislava, as Sweden enjoyed success after success.

Not only did the Nordic country capture Men’s Team Class 8 gold, in addition Tobias Andersson and David Gustafsson secured the Men’s Team Class 9 title.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

The win recorded by Emil Andersson and Linus Karlsson had an air of revenge; at the final hurdle in Bratislava they overcame their nemesis in Brazil, Viktor Didukh who partnered Ivan Mai.

Vitally, the Swedes won the doubles (12-14, 13-11, 11-8, 12-10), before Viktor Didukh levelled matters by overcoming Linus Karlsson (11-7, 14-12, 11-7, 11-6). Thoughts of a Rio repeat loomed but there was to be a different ending. Emil Andersson stood firm. He beat Ivan Mai in four games (11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10);

“Linus and I probably played the best doubles match ever. I tried to play as positively as I could during my match against Ivan. It was a very exciting match with lots of long rallies and my strategy was to spin the ball, and put the ball on the table.” Emil Andersson

Sweden rejoiced and they rejoiced just as they had some 15 minutes earlier when Tobias Andersson and David Gustafsson had recorded a two-nil win against the Japanese pairing of Koyo Iwabuchi and Nobuyuki Suzuki.

Impressively the Swedes won the doubles (11-5, 11-8, 11-6) before Daniel Gustafsson used his defensive skills to good effect to beat Koyo Iwabuchi (11-7, 11-7, 14-12).

“We played very well in the doubles; we were clear with our strategies from the start of the match. I like pairing with Daniel, because when he defends and our opponent pushes the ball back, I have a chance to attack.” Tobias Andersson

Today’s singles match was probably one of my best matches played ever. I was very safe with my backhand defence and that caused problems for my opponent. We are very happy and definitely we will go for a celebration tonight.” David Gustafsson

Success for Sweden and there was also success for Spain; Alvaro Valera and Alberto Seoane won Men’s Team Class overcoming the combination of Croatia’s Pavao Jozic and Vjekoslav Gregorovic at the final hurdle by two matches to nil.

“I am feeling very happy about winning the World Champion title. Winning the doubles was very crucial. It has been a good experience playing with Alvaro.” Alberto Seoane

Mainstay of the victory was Alvaro Valera; after shepherding Alberto Seoane to doubles success (11-9, 11-9, 11-9), he overcame Vjekoslav Gregorovic to seal the victory (11-3, 18-16, 11-8) and added to his tally of World titles.

In 2014 in Beijing he had won Men’s Team Class 6 and with Jordi Morales and Alberto Seoane Men’s Team Class 6-7.

“Winning the second game in my singles match was very crucial, because there is a difference psychologically when two-nil. I grew more confident in the third game and eventually managed to win the match. This is my third world title, and I am very happy.” Alvaro Valera

Victory for Spain and consolation for earlier in the day when in Men’s Class 3, Miguel Rodriguez and Eder Rodriguez experienced a semi-final defeat as at the same time in Class 10 had José Manuel Ruiz and Jorge Cardona.

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Photos: Richard Kalocsai

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