By Neha Aggarwal (Interview Iulia Necula)
What do you do when you have to face a fearless player who upset the reigning Olympic Champion last week?
Fear, doubt and anxiety might corrupt your mind and heart.
But these three words do not appear in Ruwen Filus’ dictionary. He won the Men’s Singles round of 32 match against the recent Korean giant Jeong Sangeun in four straight games (16-14, 11-6, 11-4, 11-8).
Aware of the fact that Jeong Sangeun beat Ma Long at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships last week, Ruwen Filus was prepared than ever before. Instead of taking up the pressure, he knew the mental state of his opponent very well and took the advantage.
“Winning the first set was very important as I was down 8-10, but I managed to catch a ball from far away from the table after a long rally and that was the switcher. Must have been a lot of pressure for him playing at home after the results last week.”- Ruwen Filus
With high confidence after beating Jeong Sangeun, the German moves to the round of 16 where he will now face world no.19 Kenta Matsudaira, which will be the biggest challenge for the 34 ranked defender.
Plastic ball a problem?
One can certainly conclude that Ruwen Filus is amongst the world’s best defenders in Men’s singles only after the legendary Joo Saehyuk (KOR) and Panagiotis Gionis (GRE), who are ranked at no.17 and 33 respectively. Introduction of the plastic ball seems to have affected the players using pimples out rubber sheet as the amount of spin which is now imparted in the ball is less than the one in the celluloid balls.
“I definitely had some troubles adapting to the game due to less spin in the new plastic balls, especially being a defender. But on the flip side, the shots of the opponents are not so strong which compensates the situation,” he explained.
The German giant has adapted beautifully to the situation, which is evident in his performance. But the aim is high as this is an important year for the 29-year old. “The main objective left for the rest of the year would be good results at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships and European Championships, as well as entering top 30 for the first time in my life,” he expressed.
Earning a spot in the German National Team
“With my world ranking, I will be placed amongst the top 32 seeded players. There are some top players that don’t like playing against defense and with a little bit of luck on the draw I could reach last 16,” said Filus in an enthusiastic tone as he looked thrilled for the upcoming Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Dusseldorf.
A proud member of the German team for Dusseldorf, Filus explained the struggle to conquer the spot.
“Half year ago, I was not so sure if I would be able to compete in Dusseldorf as I was not being nominated for the 2016 European Championships. I knew that If I do not finish at the no.1 spot in the qualifications, I will not be present at the World Championships.”
With a solid army of top players, Germany was only looking to fill in the fifth spot as Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Timo Boll, Patrick Franziska and Bastian Steger were the undisputed choices.
So how did he made his way through?
“We had an internal qualification system including 8 tournaments after the 2016 Rio Olympic Games where each of us were summing points depending on performance and opponents. I am happy I could finish first on that ranking!”
Filus made through the intense qualifying system for the fifth spot, now he looks determined to prove his mettle.
In Incheon, he is proving it right. Will he do justice to his position in Dusseldorf?
Well, the world will be watching.