03 Nov 2018

Finalists one year ago, one year later they will draw swords again; at the semi-final stage of the Men’s Singles event at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open in Stockholm China’s Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin, the respective top two seeds, both emerged successful.

Fan Zhendong ended Swedish hopes by beating Mattias Falck, the no.15 seed (11-4, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8), before, in a similar vein, Xu Xin ended the adventures of colleague Zhou Qihao (11-4, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9), a player whose journey had started five days earlier in the qualification tournament.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Both Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin controlled matters from start to finish.

A first ever meeting against Mattias Falck, it was a very focused Fan Zhendong who secured the opening game; he gave his gallant adversary only minimal time to react. In the second he was equally single-minded and dominant, he established a 5-2 lead; the grip was never relaxed.

Complete in every respect and posing questions with subtle service changes, in the third game, Fan Zhendong moved ahead 5-3; Mattias Falck, the options ever decreasing, called “Time Out”. The grip was never relaxed. Fan Zhendong was in total control.

“He is the number one player in the world. He is so good; things did not work out for me today, I had so few chances.” Mattias Falck

The previous evening, Mattias Falck had beaten Lin Gaoyuan, likewise from China and presently named at no.4 on the current Men’s World Ranking; such was the quite substantial difference when facing Fan Zhendong. He underlined the reasons why his name appears at the top of the order. The crowd willed Mattias Falck to greater heights but whatever the Swede could do, the Chinese star could do better, not only better than the brave Swede but better than any other player on planet earth.

Three games to nil ahead, at 10-8 in the fourth after surrendering two game points, Fan Zhendong called “Time Out”. Precaution, the break worked.

“It is the first time that I have played against him. I thought he did very well yesterday to beat Lin Gaoyuan; I prepared well for this match, I watched videos of him playing. I was well aware that his forehand was special because he uses short pimples.” Fan Zhendong

Equally, there was no respite for Zhou Qihao, having lost the opening three games, trailing 3-4 in the fourth, he called “Time Out”; it was no more than a token gesture; Xu Xin was not to be denied.

“He is a team mate so we know each other really well. Zhou played much better earlier in the tournament, in a semi-final there is much more pressure; technically because of the pressure he made mistakes. It was a domestic match, so I could play in a relaxed way. I hope we put on a good show for the crowd.” Xu Xin

The finals’ programme commences at 10.00 am (local time) on Sunday 4th November.

World Tour 2018 Seamaster Swedish Open Fan Zhendong xu xin Mattias Falck Zhou Qihao

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