01 Oct 2019

A place in the main draw is the target as play commences in the two-day qualification tournament to gain places at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Swedish; two venues in use, the Eriksadalshallen which later will be the home for the main event and the Skanstullshallen. Furthermore, there is no margin for error, from the start, the knock-out formula prevails.

Play commences at 9.30am local time on the morning of Tuesday 1st October.

Day ends on disappointing note for home supporters

Women’s Doubles – Preliminary Round One

The day ended on a disappointing note for the host nation. After Erika Front and Jennifer Jonsson had lost to Singapore’s Goi Rui Xuan and Lin Ye (11-7, 12-10, 11-9); in a hard fought five games encounter, Filippa Bergand and Linda Bergström experienced defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic’s Karin Adamkova and Dana Cechova (3-11, 8-11, 11-7, 14-12, 11-6).

Victory in a full distance contest for Karin Adamkova and Dana Cechova, it was the same for the partnership of Belgium’s Lisa Lung and Serbia’s Andrea Todorovic. Likewise they emerged successful after losing the opening two games; in a tense encounter they overcame Italy’s Giorgia Piccolin and Debora Vivarelli (8-11, 7-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-7).

Defeat for Filippa Bergand in partnership with Linda Bergström (Photo: Ireneusz Kanabrodzki)
Success for hosts, narrow margins

Men’s Doubles – Preliminary Round One

Sweden’s Pår Gerell and Jens Lundqvist surrendered one match point in the fourth game but at the second attempt in the decider converted; to the delight of the home supporters, they beat England’s Paul Drinkhall and Sam Walker (11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-13, 12-10).

The decision by the minimal two point margin; it was the same for the combination of Hungary’s Tamas Lakatos and Italy’s Leonardo Mutti, as it was for Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko and Kirill Skachkov. Tamas Lakatos and Leonardo Mutti beat Belgium’s Laurens Devos and Robin Devos (11-8, 8-11, 8-11, 11-2, 12-10), in a similar manner Vladimir Sidorenko and Kirill Skachkov accounted for Japan’s Takuya Jin and Sora Matsushima.

Top name departs

Women’s Singles – Preliminary Round Two

Romania’s Bernadette Szocs, the highest ranked player in the qualification stage, experienced a shock defeat in her opening contest. She was beaten by Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin in six games (12-14, 11-9, 11-7, 11-6, 5-11, 11-8).

Deft in the use of the combination racket, long pimples on the backhand, Yang Xiaoxin exerted her skills to full effect to nullify the fast attacking skills of her illustrious opponent.

Sense of relief

Men’s Singles – Preliminary Round Two

After beating Russia’s Lev Katsman earlier in the day (11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9) and thus joining colleague Tomokazu Harimoto in the contest to claim the right to be the youngest ever winner in an ITTF World Tour men’s singles event – in 2015 Tomokazu Harimoto had beaten the Czech Republic’s Tomas Polansky at the Polish Open – it was journey’s end for Japan’s 12 year old Sora Matsushima. He was beaten by Austria’s Andreas Levenko (11-9, 16-14, 8-11, 11-2, 11-9).

It was a relieved Andreas Levenko, at the end of the contest.

“I was prepared for such a situation but it’s difficult to get it out of your mind that he’s only 12 years old! It was an uncomfortable situation, I felt under pressure all the time. He had nothing to lose, he played freely, technically, he is well ahead of his years.” Andreas Levenko

Sora Matsushima stole Swedish hearts (Photo: Ireneusz Kanabrodzki)
Leading name falls

A short break to check the table was level; matters resolved to the contentment of both players, Frenchman Mehdi Boulossa caused the biggest upset of the day so far; he beat Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, the highest ranked player on qualification duty in seven games (14-12, 18-16, 11-7, 3-11, 8-11, 6-11, 11-8).

Success for France but there was defeat, Abdel-Kader Salifou experienced defeat at the hands of the host nation’s Anton Källberg (5-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-7, 11-8).

“I didn’t play to well in the beginning of the game and was behind. I became more aggressive and that helped. My service and service returns became better the longer the match continued; that was key for the victory. I hadn’t played Salifou before but I know he is a good player.” Anton Källberg

Enhancing chances

Men’s Singles – Preliminary Round Two

Several steps still to go but presently listed at no.16 (225 points) on the ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles Standings; China’s Sun Wen did his chances of qualification no harm whatsoever; he beat Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej in straight games (11-6, 11-5, 11-3, 14-12).

“Today my performance on court to move the opponent was not too bad. I was fast on court and prepared well for the match, analysing my opponent’s game play well. During the match, I was able to play my own strokes well and move the opponent well, probably my opponent was not too used to my playing style in the beginning, so I was able to take those games more easily. Towards the later part of the match, it was a close fight. Pistej has some variety to his playing style and has some shots that are quite tricky to receive. Sometimes I was not able to get used to his shots, I just had to defend and adapt.” Sun Wen

Only when ready

Men’s Singles – Preliminary Round Two

Absent from the international scene for a year, Frenchman Alexandre Cassin returned in style. In the opening round he beat Hong Kong’s Kwan Man Ho (11-6, 11-3, 5-11, 12-10, 11-6), before causing one of the biggest upsets of the day. He ended the hopes of India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (11-6, 11-3, 5-11, 12-10, 11-6).

“It’s the first time at an ITTF World Tour tournament for one year; so difficult to feel the ball. I beat Kwan Man Ho earlier today so I had one match to my credit. I spoke with Hua Huorn, my Chinese coach and decided the tactics; I had to be fast with my legs, receive well with my forehand and be the first to attack. My coach stressed I must fight, not give anything away! I stuck to the tactics. I’ve not played for a year because of Chinese advice, make sure you have a good technique, you know French players are not so good in that aspect; then play when ready. Hua Huorn has coached players like Wang Hao, all French players respect him most highly.” Alexandre Cassin

A successful return to ITTF World Tour action for Alexandre Cassin (Photo: Ireneusz Kanabrodzki)
Shocks aplenty

Women’s Singles – Preliminary Round One

As is often common on the ITTF World Tour surprise exits are aplenty in Stockholm, a case especially seen in the 12.00pm session which saw China’s Qian Tianyi stun 2018 European champion Li Qian by a 4-2 margin (11-9, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 13-11, 13-11).

The leading Slovak in the women’s game, Barbora Balazova is out of the running following a shock 4-2 defeat at the hands of Norway’s Ma Wenting (6-11, 11-6, 9-11, 12-10, 11-3, 12-10). Debora Vivarelli was another name to fall in the round with the Italian player losing out to Bulgaria’s Maria Yovkova (9-11, 11-4, 11-6, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9).

Li Jie reacts

A tight contest with Spain’s Ana Garcia (11-7, 2-11, 5-11, 12-10, 11-4, 11-4), Li Jie of the Netherlands admitted after the match that she struggled to keep up with her young opponent at times:

“Ana played a very good game against me. She is very good playing against defensive players. I was behind and had some problems with her smashes and the tempo of the ball, her playing style was very difficult. I turned the game around by fighting hard and putting the ball on the table all the time and after a while I found the right tempo and distance to the ball.” Li Jie

Lin Ye eliminated at first hurdle

Women’s Singles – Preliminary Round One

We’ve just witnessed somewhat of a shock in the 11.10am session of play with Singapore’s Lin Ye departing the women’s singles race in preliminary round one!

Having met earlier this year at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum Australian Open, Austria’s Yui Hamamoto, formerly of Japan, won 4-2 on that occasion. In Stockholm it was the same outcome as Hamamoto was simply too quick for her opponent, especially from the backhand (11-9, 7-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8).

Yui Hamamoto most impressive, the backhand a key factor (Photo: Ireneusz Kanabrodzki)
Full distance thriller!

Men’s Singles – Preliminary Round One

Trailing 1-3 in the deciding seventh game in his opening round encounter with the host nation’s Hampus Soderlund, Romanian teenager Rares Sipos managed to stage a comeback. Staying close to the net, Sipos took the more positive approach of the two players, winning 11 of the next 13 points to extend his stay in the competition (5-11, 11-5, 11-8, 5-11, 13-11, 10-12, 11-5).

“Hampus is a very good player but I came well prepared and it was a good match. He is a fighter and never gives up. He was leading 3-1 in the last game but I managed to go 9-3 up and just keep on focusing. I was concentrated all the way when I was 10-4 because he is a fighter and never gave away a point for free.” Rares Sipos

Early departure for Brazilian star

Women’s Singles – Preliminary Round One

Finalist at last month’s 2019 ITTF-Pan American Championships but Bruna Takahashi has fallen at the first qualification hurdle in Stockholm with the Brazilian losing out to China’s Liu Fei in straight games (11-2, 11-4, 11-4, 11-3).

There were two further victories for China to celebrate as Gu Yuting and Liu Weishan got the better of Turkey’s Sibel Altinkaya (11-9, 11-6, 11-5, 11-3) and Switzerland’s Rachel Moret (11-6, 11-5, 11-9, 11-7) respectively.

Salifou off to winning start

Men’s Singles – Preliminary Round One

Taking to the table in the opening session of play Abdel-Kader Salifou was one of two Frenchmen to beat opposition from the host nation, holding off a brave fight from Fabian Akerstrom (11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8) while Andrea Landrieu came out on top against Per Sandstrom across six games (12-10, 7-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-3).

“Playing Fabien you never know what is going to happen. I knew it would be a difficult match. I went ahead 2-1 but then in the third game I was down 2-7; winning that game made the difference. Fabien is experienced, he’s one year older than me. Several years in my home town of Reims, I practiced with Quentin Cezard, a local player; he played the same, long pimples, so I knew what to do. Today patience was vital, it was a good match for me to win.” Abdel-Kader Salifour

However, Sweden held the upper hand in one head-to-head meeting with France as Viktor Brodd outclassed Jules Rolland 4-1 (11-4, 11-3, 2-11, 11-5, 11-9).

Fabian Akerström beaten by Abdel-Kader Salifou (Photo: Ireneusz Kanabrodzki)
Qualification underway

Here we go! It’s time for qualification action in Stockholm – here’s a look at the day’s schedule:

World Tour 2019 Swedish Open Stockholm

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Day 1 - 2019 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open