02 Nov 2018

The absence of China’s Ma Long through injury meant that the host nation was guaranteed a minimum two places in the second round of the Men’s Singles event at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open in Stockholm, the question to be answered was as to whether it could be a third.

Jens Lundqvist, scheduled to play Ma Long, received a walk-over, Mattias Falck, the no.15 seed faced Anton Källberg; the player with a quest was Kristian Karlsson, the no.16 seed, the mission set was completed.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

He beat Japan’s Jin Ueda, a player who more than once has proved himself strong in a crisis, earlier in the year at the ITTF Team World Cup in London, he saved match point after match point against Jang Sangeun to secure victory over Korea Republic and a place in the final.

Kristian Karlsson responded, he emerged successful in five games (11-9, 15-13, 8-11, 12-10, 11-6).

“It’s always tough playing Jin, we played many times as juniors, mentally he is very strong; winning the first two games, both very close was a major boost. Today I was strong on the first three strokes; that helped me control the match and forced him to make errors. Good receive of service was vital.” Kristian Karlsson

Two Swedes, through to the second round, eventually, the third was Mattias Falck, by the very narrowest of margins he beat Anton Källberg (11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9).

Success for Sweden, three players, through to round two; for China, in the top half of the draw, it was four, Zhou Yu and Liang Jingkun being the players to upset the order of merit.

Zhou Yu beat Germany’s Patrick Franziska, the no.13 seed (11-8, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8); Liang Jingkun, after the previous day having recovered from a three games to nil deficit against Korea Republic’s Park Ganghyeon (9-11, 8-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-9, 11-5), rather less dramatically, accounted for Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the no.12 seed (11-8, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8)

“I like to play against his top spin style of play; he goes back from the table and gives me time to play, he gives me time to use my power. I like it when we are involved in top spin rallies but also I think today I was better in the short play. Winning the close first game helped but the biggest boost to my confidence was winning yesterday from three-nil down.” Liang Jingkun

Conversely for Fan Zhendong, the top seed and Lin Gaoyuan, the no.3 seed, it was success as expected; Fan Zhendong beat colleague Liu Dingshuo (12-10, 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 11-6). Later, in a contest that tested Chinese nerves, Lin Gaoyuan accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An in seven games (11-8, 8-11, 11-13, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8). Notably in the sixth game he trailed 5-8 and then won six in a row to escape the jaws of defeat.

“Chen Chien-An’s forehand was of a very high quality today, it was only at the end the sixth game and in the seventh that the level went down; when I was losing in the sixth game I didn’t change anything, it was just a case of keep fighting. Overall, I think I had a slight advantage in the short play.” Lin Gaoyuan

Success for China and Sweden, in the one remaining Men’s Singles opening round contest, it was success for Japan; Koki Niwa, the no.8 seed, accounted for Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic but only just; in the sixth game he was on the very precipice of defeat (10-12, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 6-11, 12-10, 11-9).

“I felt lots of pressure in this match. My opponent was very good at the blocking. I had to work really hard points to win the rallies. In order to win my tactic was play more to the body.” Koki Niwa

Matches in the top half of the draw in the opening round of the Men’s Singles event concluded; the lower half will be conducted later in the day, during the evening session of play.

World Tour 2018 Seamaster Swedish Open Kristian Karlsson

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