by Ian Marshall, Editor
Eyes focused on the all Swedish clash; a good start, in each of the first three games, Mattias Falck was the quicker out of the blocks; the fast forehand from side of the racket using short pimpled rubber, unerring.
Kristian Karlsson to some extent stole the opening game, having trailed 8-10; Mattias Falck made no mistake in the second, securing the first nine points before his adversary responded. Similarly, in the fourth game it was Mattias Falck who made the better start; he went ahead 5-3 but was only to win two more points, his colleague replied to level matters.
Parity, his blocking skills ever more potent, Mattias Falck established the same advantage in the fifth game, only this time he never relinquished the advantage.
Now one game in arrears a major effort was needed from Kristian Karlsson. In the sixth game, he held a 9-6 lead, he elected for “Time Out”; at 10-7 he held three game points, a seventh game beckoned. It was not to happen; Mattias Falck won the next five points, a place in the final was reserved.
“It was a very close match determined by small margins, I had a good start in every game but Kristian kept catching up. We know each other so well. After Kristian took the “Time Out” I changed my services; that gave me the chance I needed. Now Fan Zhendong; I’ve never played him before. Let’s see what happens.” Mattias Falck
Meanwhile, in the immediate preceding contest, it had been Liang Jingkun who seized the early advantage but then as a potential crisis loomed, as on as so many occasions, we witnessed the strength of Fan Zhendong; wherever, Ling Jingkun directed his attacking strokes, Fan Zhendong anticipated, when the rallies accrued, there was only one winner.
The fact that Fan Zhendong is the successor to now retired colleague Wang Liqin as the counter top spin master puts immense pressure on any adversary, errors are forced. Gradually, point by point, Fan Zhendong imposed his authority.
“We know each other well; we practise a lot together, so I am very familiar with his style of play. It’s the same for him. In the first game my footwork was a little slow; that’s the main reason why I lost the game. After that everything went well, now a home player awaits, I’ll be prepared.” Fan Zhendong.
The semi-final between Fan Zhendong and Mattias Falck will be staged later in the day, during the evening session of play.