by Simon Daish
Heading into their head-to-head meeting the statistics favoured Hugo Calderano: seeded nine positions above his Swedish counterpart, Calderano had emerged victorious over Karlsson 4-1 in both previous encounters – but there was to be no repeat this time out!
The action was intense right from the start on table one and it was Karlsson who was the quicker of the two to find the groove, winning the opening two games to build some early momentum.
Calderano required an immediate response and it arrived as the Brazilian reduced the deficit to one but it wasn’t long before the pressure began to mount again as an impassioned Karlsson continued to find his range and retook a two-game lead.
There was no more room for error on Calderano’s side and the second seed refused to give up the fight, claiming games five and six by the narrowest of margins to take the match into a decider. Nearly a whole hour had been played and still the crowd was none the wiser as to who would come out on top!
The scores sitting level at three games apiece and with momentum against him, Karlsson had it all to do once again and needed a fast start out of the blocks to put the disappointment of the previous two games behind him.
Falling 4-2 behind Calderano attempted to recapture his composure with a “time-out” call but to no avail as Karlsson stormed into a commanding 10-5 lead. Facing five match points against him, Calderano managed to save two but no more, as Karlsson extended his stay in the competition.
Through to his first men’s singles quarter-final since the 2019 ITTF World Tour Korea Open last July, Kristian Karlsson meers England’s Liam Pitchford on Saturday 22nd February at 5.30pm for a spot in the last four.