04 Mar 2020

Victory by the very narrowest of margins; more than any other, the match on the opening in day of play, Tuesday 3rd March, at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open in Doha, the men’s singles first preliminary round contest between Sweden’s Truls Moregard and China’s Fang Bo, attracted the attention.

It warmed Swedish hearts and brought back memories of yesteryear when the Nordic nation more than matched their Asian rivals.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

The verdict finished in favour of the Truls Moregard (11-4, 9-11, 11-9, 7-11, 10-12, 11-4, 12-10).

According to the world rankings issued earlier in the day the result was not an upset, notably both had dropped down the list, Fang Bo from no.229 to no.296, Truls Moregard from no.90 to no.98.

However, the pedigree of Fang Bo suggested it was an upset. Fang Bo had been crowned world junior champion in 2009 in Cartagena de Indias; later in 2013 he had won the men’s singles title on the ITTF World Tour in Austria, before in Suzhou losing to Ma Long in the men’s singles final at the Qoros 2015 World Championships, a contest in which he proved more than a match for the champion elect.

One wondered at the time if he would force his way into the Chinese first team and be selected for such major events as the Olympic Games or the World Team Championships; for the man with a very similar style to that of Ma Long, it hasn’t happened.

Similar age

Likewise at junior level Truls Moregard has enjoyed success; he was the boys’ singles runner up at the 2017 World Junior Championships in Riva del Garda and also last year in Korat. Furthermore, in 2019 he won the junior boys’ singles title at the European Youth Championships and amongst other successes retained his retained his crown at the Swedish Open Junior and Cadet Open.

Truls Moregard celebrated his 18th birthday on Sunday 16th birthday, he is just a few months older than Fang Bo when he won in Cartagena de Indias; for Fang Bo the next 11 years did not bring the honours we anticipated, what do the next 11 year hold for Truls Moregard?

Seventh game

Most certainly, it was a much more mature player on view than we had seen in 2017 in Riva del Garda; the decisive seventh game endorsed that fact.

He lost the first three points of the decider; I have no statistical evidence to support but I suspect from 3-0 ahead in such a situation the player wins more than loses. The player in the lead gains confidence, the player with no points becomes agitated, doubts creep into the mind, concentration drops.

Fang Bo beaten by Truls Moregard (Photo: Hussein Sayed)


To his great credit, Truls Moregard remain calm, perhaps not quite the demeanour of the likes of Vladimir Samsonov but moving in that direction. The crucial fact was that the gap never widened but at 7-4 ahead Fang Bo looked in control, at 8-all he looked unsure, at 10-9 to the Swede, he was a worried man.

Fang Bo saved the match point; the balance was surely now in his favour, how many times have seen Chinese players win close matches, their technique is so good it withstands the greatest pressure. Fang Bo’s technique may be approaching perfection but nerves showed; the next point, the serve was too high over the net, it was not one of his best, it was pounced upon by Truls Moregard, who then serving capitalised.

He secured the point but with the increased maturity showing, he didn’t try to win the point quickly, he kept the ball on the table, he kept his opponent under pressure; he was rewarded.

“Yes, it’s one of the best win of my career so far. He is still unbelievably good even though his world ranking has dropped. I’m just really happy.” Truls Moregard

Success for Truls Moregard and there was also first preliminary round success for another bright young man, a player who this coming Saturday will mark his 17th birthday, the player against whom Truls Moregard lost in the 2019 World Junior Championships final. China’s Xiang Peng beat Frenchman Can Akkuzu (11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 7-11, 11-3, 12-14, 11-6).

I wonder what riches lay in store for Xiang Peng in the next 11 years?

World Tour 2020 Qatar Open Truls Moregard

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Day 4 - 2020 ITTF Qatar Open

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