by Neha Aggarwal
Dimaaaa Dima, clap clap clap. On repeat mode; this is what you will probably hear from the enthusiastic, table tennis savvy German crowd in Düsseldorf.
Yes, their favourite boy, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, or Dima as he is lovingly called, will be on duty for Germany, the adrenaline rush to see him win the title is probably running equally inside the fans and Dima himself.
Seeded fifth in the men’s singles event, Ovtcharov is also the man who is back in form.
He was absent from the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships at Kuala Lumpur due to an injury. At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, he bowed out to the legendary Vladimir Samsonov in the quarter-finals. Later at the Liebherr 2016 Men’s World Cup he was eliminated in the round of 16 and in the round of 32 at the Liebherr 2016 ITTF European Championships. The world was tensed, as to what was wrong with the German superstar.
But as soon as 2017 took off, Dima completely transformed. The month of February belonged to him as he won three back to back titles – the 2017 ITTF-Europe Cup in Antibes, the DHS 2017 Lausanne Open in Switzerland and then the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open in New Delhi.
And since then he has been very strategic about his preparation for the World Championships.
He has been practising with the official ball of the championship, Nittaku 40+ *** (white), since March to become used to it, playing attention to every single detail. He did withdraw from the German National Championships in the first week of March 2017, as advised by his doctor owing to a small injury. “I do not want to endanger my participation at the World Championships in Düsseldorf. That is why I have to cancel my appearance with a heavy heart,” he had said.
Training hard in April, Dima took off in the first two weeks of May, winning the Champions League for his club Fakel Gazprom Orenburg.
Confidence is certainly sky high, fitness has been taken care of. Results are right there, he is the man in form.
In this particular World Championships, he is a hungry beast. The 29-year old was absent in 2016 Kuala Lumpur owing to an injury, and in 2015 Suzhou Korea’s Lee Sangsu ended his run in round two. Dima has been waiting to erupt like hot lava from a volcano.
One could argue that Timo Boll, just fresh off winning the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Korea Open could also be the German favorite, but, let’s be realistic, the baton has certainly been passed on to the younger yet matured Dima, who is peaking at the moment.
And as far as the home advantage is concerned, Düsseldorf is home for Dima. Together with his wife Jenny and daughter Emma, Ovtcharov is now a resident, trains in the city and thus, is one of the few players who has an added advantage of being comfortable in the playing environment more than anyone else in contention.
However, despite all these upsides, the reality is that Dima will have to break the Chinese wall. He is down head to head against Ma Long 14-nil, Fan Zhendong two-nil, Xu Xin six-one and Zhang Jike five-three.
Yes. But you know, when you desire something extremly passionately, and have been working extremly hard to achieve it, the world will conspire to bring it to you. Right now that man is Dimitrij Ovtcharov.
Düsseldorf and the title awaits you.