by Simon Daish
There are two penultimate round ties to look forward to in the Men’s Championship Division, one of which features home favourites Sweden. Impressive throughout the course of the event in Halmstad, especially in their previous two fixtures against Chinese Taipei and England, however, hosts Sweden will require something extra special if they are to dethrone defending champions China.
Guaranteed a podium finish at the tournament for the first time since 2004 but can Team Sweden do the unthinkable in front of the home crowd and knock China’s title journey off course when the two sides meet at 11.00am?
While the odds are heavily stacked against Sweden there is a good opportunity for an upset in the other semi-final at 18.00pm as Germany braces for a major challenge from the no.5 seeded nation Korea Republic.
The two sides met in the group stage of the 2018 ITTF Team World Cup in February – on that occasion the win went to Korea Republic by a 3-2 score-line. With Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov struggling for fitness, Germany appears to have a uphill task ahead but can the top seeds hold off the in-form Korean team at the penultimate hurdle in Halmstad?
In between the two semi-final duels comes an extremely significant match as China and Japan meet at 14:30pm in the Women’s Championship Division final.
Opponents in the deciding rounds of the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships, 2016 Olympic Games, Seamaster 2017 ITTF Asian Championships and 2018 ITTF Team World Cup, the two sides have been involved in plenty of head-to-head encounters in recent years and on each of those occasions the victory has gone to China.
However, we have seen a couple of chinks in the armour of the Chinese line-up in Halmstad with Wang Manyu and more recently Ding Ning both falling to unexpected defeats. Searching for their first gold medal at the World Team Championships since 1971, could this finally be Japan’s time to shine?