by Ian Marshall, Editor
A good omen perhaps and sportsmen can be the most superstitious of characters but whatever the outcome, Mattias Falck can now consider himself a player of true world class; the high level he maintained in seven rounds of intense competition in the Hungarian capital city underlined that fact.
Equally in Budapest, in partnership with Kristian Karlsson, he reached the quarter-final stage of the men’s doubles event, losing to eventual runners up, Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu and Spain’s Alvaro Robles. It was a somewhat unexpected outcome, the Swedish combination having enjoyed notable success over the years. In 2012 in Herning and last year in Alicante they were the men’s doubles runners up at the Liebherr European Championships; in 2015 on the ITTF World Tour they won in Poland.
Evidence clearly suggests they are the leading Swedish partnership but they are not together in Shenzhen. The name of Mattias Falck does not appear in the men’s doubles event; not amongst the seeds, Kristian Karlsson partners Jon Persson, Anton Källberg joins forces with Truls Möregard.
The reason; undoubtedly the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is very much in the mind, especially the men’s team event, the competition which many coaches see as the best chance of a medal. I would suggest, even taking into consideration the exploits of Mattias Falck in Budapest, the Swedish brains trust thinks the same.
At the Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships, competing on home soil in Halmstad, Sweden secured bronze; now can they repeat or better that feat in Tokyo?
Will it prove more difficult? Most certainly, there is only one bronze medal on offer as opposed to two in Halmstad. Also, in the Japanese capital city it is a different formula. In Halmstad five singles matches but with one member of the outfit only scheduled to play once, time and again, especially in the crucial contests, Mattias Falck, Kristian Karlsson and Jon Persson formed the selection; Jon Persson being the player scheduled just to play one match.
Now, in Tokyo, it is five matches but proceedings start with doubles followed by four singles; no player may appear in more than two contests. Thus if Mattias Falck and Kristian Karlsson, who were seen as the two principal players in Halmstad, join forces for the doubles, the player regarded as the third in status would be scheduled for two singles matches.
Mattias Falck has staked his claim to playing two singles; Kristian Karlsson is the one left hander amongst the Swedish elite so he is an ideal doubles selection. Equally in Halmstad Jon Persson proved himself the man for the pressure match; thus he may be favoured ahead of Anton Källberg, the winner at the recent Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Croatia Open. Truls Möregard, only 17 years old, may just be considered a little young.
Hence the Swedish doubles selection in Shenzhen and Mattias Falck only in the singles; notably for the immediately ensuing Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Hong Kong Open, the Swedes keep the same pairing, a Tokyo vote for Jon Persson?