European Championships | 18 Aug 2022
Mattias FALCK and Kristian KARLSSON clinched gold in the Men's Doubles
Newly crowned champions in Men's Doubles Event at the European Championships in Munich are Mattias FALCK and Kristian KARLSSON of Sweden. In their third clash against Austria's in the final in past 10 years they overcame Robert GARDOS and Daniel HABESOHN 3:1 (10:12, 11:1, 11:5, 13:11).
Alexis and Felix LEBRUN of France clinched bronze medal as well as Jon PERSSON and Anton KALLBERG of Sweden.
Like four years ago in the final of the event in Alicante and in 2012 final in Herning Austrian pairings faced Sweden's duo, but this clash ended in favor of Swedes. FALCK and KARLSSON added this title to the one clinched few months ago at the World Champions in Huston.
“We are really happy and really satisfied right now. We have been aiming for this title throughout the whole tournament. It was a tough final but I'm really happy the way we managed to play it," said FALCK.
On their match points in the fourth set FALCK said:"We had our match points but they are a strong pair. We were trying to keep calm and stay focused.It's obviously very small margins in doubles. After we lost the first set I think we found more of a calm and took more control over the match. We got better control on the first balls and could put pressure on them. We got them a little bit out of balance. We said before the game that we should try to play long balls on them. They expect me to play short to build up for Kristian every time so I tried to be a little more aggressive, playing a little longer to get them out of balance. Kristian defended himself really great and then it feels even more relaxed for me to be a bit more aggressive, knowing that he defends himself fantastically."
Kristian KARLSSON said:”We have tried for a decade now – it is 10 years since we took silver the first time so it's obviously a fantastic feeling. It is difficult to say what made us win, it is such small margins in doubles, it's all about the first three balls and I think we were really tight there and played really, really good after the first set. We also played well in the first game, obviously, but after that we took a little bit more control over the match and it felt like we came to our absolute highest level.
It was pretty intense, we know what their strengths are. We have played them ten times at least and they also know how we want to play. After the first set I think we managed to control the game a little bit more than they wanted and that was pretty much the key to success here."
GARDOS and HABESOHN reached the fifth European Championships Doubles final in their career. In the semis they beat LEBRUN brothers 3:1 (3:11, 11:7, 11:8, 11:6). French players commenced the match in furious style, forced Austrian's into errors, so Austrian pairings had to change the tactics.
"We had to play better. They were rushing really fast. We were not even ready in receive sometimes because they were going to the table already serving, and we were not really prepared sometimes.
I said to 'Robbie' that we have to make the game a little bit slower, to take our time, not that they force us, throw up the ball and we are not even ready. They also played good, they hit some good balls.We changed our tactics, we changed our tempo and this was our main thing I think. That's when they lost their rhythm a little bit and also made some easy mistakes and our quality was increasing over the duration of the match and I think this was the key," said HABESOHN.
In past few months HABESOHN and GARDOS reached the top level they had when they won their titles in 2018 and 2012.
" I said to Robbie before the competition, 'I want to have a third gold medal'. We were playing good in the past months, maybe even in the past half year. The last tournament was good and I felt that we can make it.
Speaking of their fifth final in doubles GARDIS said: "If you win, it's amazing, if you lose it is the opposite. Right now it's nice, we are closer to our goal. You always want to win. We are happy to beat them, to play a very good tournament until now, and we will see. If you play a final you want to win. You don't play the finals just for fun. We will try it, we will prepare it and that's why nothing is done until now."
On whether they felt in control of the match in the second game, having lost the first game 11-3:
"No, if you don't focus 100 per cent it can go very, very fast against them. If you don't play with a really high quality they go everything over the ball and they go very fast so they could kill us.
"We had to keep a really high concentration and high quality balls so that they really couldn't make this fast game. I think this was the key. If you just lose a little bit of quality they can punish you in two seconds."
On their way to third final in career Mattias FALCK and Kristian KARLSSON prevailed against teammates PERSSON and KALLBERG after four games (10:12, 11:8, 11:8, 11:9).
"They've done a fantastic tournament and were playing really well. I think the big difference is that we do it really well in the end of the third and fourth game. We tighten our play and manage to get a good quality in the end of the sets, we get a bit more aggressive and get better returns and that was probably making the small difference today," said FALCK.
Kristian KARLSSON talked about his communication with FALCK during the match.
"You talk a lot to each other during a doubles match and now it's probably even more because we don't have a coach with us. In doubles it's all about being as good as possible in the first balls and I think we did that very well throughout the whole match."
GARDOS/HABESOHN are the first pair to reach the men's doubles finals for the 5th time. They won in 2012 and 2018 and were runner-up in 2013 and 2015. Until today they shared the record with Hans ALSER/Kjell JOHANSSON (SWE) and Timo BOLL/Christian SÜSS (GER) who played 4 finals together. ALSER/JOHANSSON won 1 and lost 3, BOLL/SÜSS won all their 4 finals.
Kjell JOHANSSON is the record holder of men's doubles finals. He played 7 consecutive finals from 1964 until 1976, 4 with Alser and 3 with Stellan BENGTSSON. Timo BOLL played 5, the 5th one with Zoltan FEJER-KONNERTH.
In addition: ALSER/JOHANSSON won Europeans in 1966 and Worlds in 1967, KALINIC/SURBEK won Europeans in 1982 and 1984 and Worlds in 1983, FALCK/KARLSSON won Worlds in 2021 and Europeans in 2022.