by Ian Marshall, Editor
Elias Ranefur, the country’s representative just over four years ago at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, set the tone.
He recovered from a two games to nil and three games to one deficit to beat Finland’s Benedek Olah (5-11, 4-11, 14-12, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6), the winner in 2016 on the ITTF World Tour in Lagos.
“It was a difficult match for me. In the beginning I had a hard time returning his service but when trailing three-one, I started playing with more spin and a bit safer. I didn’t go for the winning point directly; this was the key for me winning this match. To play in my hometown and win means a lot to me because it is the most fun tournament to play in all year, especially with my family watching from the stands.” Elias Ranefur
A scintillating win for Elias Ranefur, for Simon Berglund, it was the same but with an extra ingredient; success against a player he greatly admired. He overcame Germany’s Bastian Steger (11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 7-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7).
“I have watched Bastian play in this tournament since I was 11 years old . I even watched him beat Jörgen Persson a few years ago. So, I know everything about his game which helped me. A key for the win was serve and receive. I wasn’t winning any points from my reverse service, so I had to vary the tactics to combat the experience of Bastian. I also had to have the nerve to change overall tactics during the match. Normally I control the tactics in matches and this is what I was trying to do again. I am from this area in Stockholm, so is great to be back and to play in front of family.” Simon Berglund
Success for Elias Ranefur and Simon Berglund, notably for the host nation there was also a second preliminary round Men’s Singles wins of note. Hampus Nordberg beat a man in form. He accounted for Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu, runner up in September at the Liebherr 2018 European Championships. Impressively, Hampus Nordberg prevailed in five games (2-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-7, 14-12).
“I had good tactics against Ionescu, I felt I was strong serving short and attacking first; in open play I had the upper hand. I really enjoyed playing on the centre court, this is why I practise hard, this is what I really enjoy, with the home crowd and the atmosphere.” Hampus Nordberg.
Three Swedes through to the third preliminary round in eye catching matches; also through but not quite in the same dramatic manner emerged six more from the host nation.
Jens Lundqvist, Jon Persson and Pär Gerell all emerged successful in their second round matches as did Anton Källberg, Hampus Soderlund and Truls Moregard, the pick of the crop being the win recorded by Truls Moregard. He beat Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit (11-8, 11-6, 11-7, 10-12, 8-11, 11-7) the winner on the ITTF World Tour in 2014 in the Philippines.