Apr 28. Never before, can Mattias Falck be the first?
A place in the final, a medal guaranteed and whatever happens a remarkable performance, one that will be remembered for years to come but if Mattias Falck is to win the men’s singles title at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest on the afternoon of Sunday 28th April; then he has to achieve what has never been achieved before.
No European player has ever beaten an adversary from the People’s Republic of China in a men’s singles final at a World Championships.
In fact, only twice has a Chinese player experienced defeat against an adversary from foreign shores in the contest to decide who will hold high the St Bride Vase, both occasions involved Guo Yuehua against Japanese opposition. In 1977 in Birmingham he was beaten by Mitsuru Konno, two years later in Pyongyang by Seiji Ono when at the end of the third game being forced to withdraw injured.
European players have tried three times, never successful.
Now generations ago, in 1959 in Dortmund on the first ever occasion when a Chinese player reached the men’s singles final, Hungary’s Ferenc Sido was beaten by Rong Guotuan; later in 1973 on the other two instances when Europe faced China in the title decider, it was compatriots of Mattias Falck who experienced defeat. In 1973 in Sarajevo, at the final hurdle Kjell Johansson was beaten by Xi Enting; in 1987 in New Delhi, Jan-Ove Waldner lost to Jiang Jialiang.
Europe has enjoyed success since the appearance of China now 60 years ago; in particularly Sweden. In addition Hungary’s Istvan Jonyer, Frenchman Jean-Philippe Gatien and Werner Schlager; Stellan Bengtsson, Jan-Ove Waldner and Jörgen Persson all secured the precious title.
However, none beat Chinese opposition in the final; in fact Jan-Ove Waldner who won in 1989 in Dortmund and later in 1997 in Manchester, in the overall 14 matches played, he only faced one Chinese player; in Manchester he beat Yan Sen in the semi-finals.
Earlier, in 1989 Jörgen Persson, the runner up, had beaten them for him; in the fourth round he accounted for Xie Chaojie followed by success against Xu Zengcai and Yu Shentong to reach the final.
Now surely that is good news for Mattias Falck; the coach sitting courtside in Budapest will be Jörgen Persson!