by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
However, there was one table and one home grown player on whom my eyes particularly focused; the sole member on duty who had an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles title to his credit, 30 year old Hampus Nordberg.
Five years ago in 2012, when the tournament was staged further west in Helsingborg, he won the Men’s Singles title beating colleague Andreas Tornkvist in the final.
In Stockholm, he almost experienced defeat in his opening contest, facing Iran’s 16 year old full of energy Amin Ahmadian, semi-finalist earlier this year on the ITTF World Junior Circuit in Croatia, Hampus Nordberg was in trouble. He trailed by three games to one, prior to mounting his recovery. He secured the fifth and sixth games, before in the vital seventh establishing a 5-2 lead; he appeared to have weathered the storm.
It was not the situation, Amin Ahmadian won the next four points and again led at 7-6 after Hampus Nordberg had elected for “Time Out” when in arrears at 6-5; to his credit the Swede remained focused, the extra edge of experienced counted. He won five points in a row to seal the victory (11-5, 10-12, 12-14, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7).
“I’d never seen him before; I was one-nil up and ahead 7-4 in the second game. He just started to play really well, he anticipated the direction of the play. After the fourth game I tried to change the rhythm of the match but then in the seventh game after leading 5-2 I just made easy mistakes. He was good from both sides, good from both backhand and forehand; he was aggressive. You could not relax against him for a second. The match was won in the mind; it was a mental battle.” Hampus Norberg
A close call for Hampus Nordberg, it was the same in their opening matches in the Men’s Singles qualification tournament for colleagues Viktor Brodd and Harald Andersson; Viktor Brodd beat Hong Kong’s Kwan Man Ho (11-6, 9-11, 13-13, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4), Harald Andersson accounted for Korea’s Park Gyeongtae (13-15, 8-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-2).