by Simon Daish
Home advantage crucial, Swedish stars cause upsets
Surely the underdogs in their Round of 16 encounters, Sweden’s Mattias Falck and Kristian Karlsson produced stunning displays in the Men’s Singles draw with both players claiming shock 4-2 victories over no.3 seed Lin Gaoyuan (7-11, 11-7, 14-12, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8) and eighth seed Koki Niwa (11-6, 5-11, 9-11, 11-9, 16-14, 11-2) respectively to send the home crowd wild at the Eriksdalshallen.
🏓Men’s Singles R16
Mattias Falck 4-2 Lin Gaoyuan
Kristian Karlsson 4-2 Niwa Koki pic.twitter.com/t2ZUYGrGop
— ITTF World (@ittfworld) November 2, 2018
Defeat for recently crowned Liebherr 2018 Men’s World Cup bronze medallist Lin Gaoyuan but the news was pretty positive overall for players representing China: champion last year in Stockholm, Xu Xin got the better of Japan’s Jun Mizutani in his Round of 16 match (11-7, 3-11, 11-7, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6) while Liang Jingkun, Zhou Qihao and top seed Fan Zhendong all qualified for the last eight with straight game victories.
Two qualifiers from Korea Republic, Lim Jonghoon and Jang Woojin played out an epic full distance encounter with the latter player recovering from 2-3 down to claim his spot in the last eight with a 4-3 win. Dimitrij Ovtcharov also progressed courtesy of a 4-1 victory over Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju.
Nerves of steel
There’s nothing quite so satisfying as defying the odds when all hope looks lost, something Japan’s Mima Ito would have learned from her Round of 16 match on Day Two. Trailing Singapore’s Feng Tianwei 2-7 in the deciding game, Mima Ito won nine of the next 11 points to squeeze over the line (2-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6, 5-11, 11-5, 11-9), snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
Ding Ning was also forced to fight back from a two games deficit in her Round of 16 encounter, but she didn’t let the score-line faze her as the no.6 seed recovered four games in a row to send defending champion Chen Xingtong out of the competition (6-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9, 11-7).
The two other names through to the lower half of the quarter-finals draw are Liu Shiwen and Kasumi Ishikawa, who will take on Mima Ito and Ding Ning respectively on Day Three. However, the quarter-final fixtures in the upper section of the draw have already been decided.
Eliminating Liu Gaoyang with a 4-0 victory in the afternoon session of play, top seed Zhu Yuling then sent qualifier Miyu Kato home with a win across five games (11-8, 11-4, 11-7, 10-12, 18-16). Third seed Chen Meng is also through to the penultimate stage following back-to-back successes against Suh Hyowon and Wang Manyu.
“Yes last year we played in the same round and I won four-three. Today I won four-one but it was really tough. It was a pity that I lost the fourth game. I was willing myself to win but maybe I was not so focused. The fifth game was really tough; Miyu Kato just would not give up. All I could do was just keep trying my best.” Zhu Yuling
Top seeded pair falls, China guarantees trophy
The Women’s Doubles competition won’t be won by the top seeded partnership in Stockholm after Korea Republic’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun failed to capitalise on a two games to one lead against China’s Liu Gaoyang and Zhang Rui (11-4, 5-11, 11-13, 11-5, 11-6) in the penultimate round of play.
Chen Xingtong and Sun Yingsha also upset the seeding list, first by eliminating second seeds Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato in the quarter-finals before earning a 3-1 success against no.5 seeds Chen Ke and Wang Manyu (11-9, 11-9, 4-11, 11-4) to set up an all-China final.
Superb performances earlier in the day, the two remaining Swedish partnerships had outdone expectations to reach the last four of the Men’s Doubles event but with the two host nation pairs set to meet in the semi-finals, one was destined to fall. In a dramatic contest, no.5 seeds Mattias Falck and Kristian Karlsson saw off Anton Källberg and Truls Moregard across five games (12-10, 6-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6) to move through to the gold medal match.
The other semi-final marked the end of the road for qualifiers Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford with fourth seeds Liao Cheng-Ting and Lin Yun-Ju fighting back from a game down to beat the English duo 3-1 (5-11, 13-11, 12-10, 11-8).
“We played a little bit passively at the beginning; we changed after losing the opening game and became more active. It was vital to win the third game; I feel we played well.” Lin Yun-Ju
Road to recovery
And finally Ma Long has begun receiving treatment following his withdrawal from the action in Stockholm. The ITTF wishes the Chinese star a full and speedy recovery.
— ITTF World (@ittfworld) November 2, 2018