by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
He is 25 days the senior of Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, the next name in the seniority list.
A promising young player but of course all do not flourish; it was very different for Timo Boll. Successes followed in later teenage years but I would suggest that the watershed, the confirmation of Timo Boll as player of true world came in 2002.
One year earlier he had won his first ever ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles title when beating Jean-Michel Saive in the final in Brazil. One year later in 2002 in Austria, he added his second such title; in addition he was crowned European champion in Zagreb and in Jinan City he secured the Men’s World Cup title.
The titles speak for themselves but note the names of the players he beat in those 2002 finals. In Zagreb it was Kalinikos Kreanga, in Austria, Jan-Ove Waldner, in Jinan City, Kong Linghui, at the time the reigning Olympic champion.
In 2017, Timo Boll will be making his 14th appearance in the Men’s World Cup; a competition in which of the 623 players who have competed since the event was first held in 1980, he owns one of the very best records off all.
Later in 2005 he was to win in Liège; in 2008 also in Liège and in 2012 in Liverpool he was the runner up. In 2010 in Magdeburg and in 2014 in Düsseldorf he was the bronze medallist. Meanwhile, in 2007 in Barcelona and 2013 in Verviers he finished in fourth place.
Thus in eight of his 13 appearances to date, he has reached to semi-final stage; on six occasions he has reserved a top three place, a podium finish.
In terms of reaching the penultimate round, his only equal or better is Vladimir Samsonov; he has appeared in nine semi-finals. Similarly when podium finishes are in question, once again the name of Vladimir Samsonov is to the fore, he stands alongside Wang Hao at the head of the list.
Each has achieved the feat seven times. The record of Vladimir Samsonov reads three times the winner, once the runner up and on three occasions third place; for Wang Hao it is three wins, three second places and once the player in third position.
A top three finish in Liège and Timo Boll joins a very special group, the class of the magnificent seven.