by Simon Daish
Starting the day with semi-finals fixtures, the four remaining contestants took to the tables aiming to progress through to the gold medal contest.
Ma Long was hoping to add a third Men’s World Cup title to his trophy collection and looked well placed to achieve that feat when the World no.1 sailed into a commanding lead.
However, standing at the opposite end of the table was Timo Boll, who had pulled off a remarkable recovery in the previous round against China’s Lin Gaoyuan, and the German star was at it again in the last four defeating Ma Long across seven games (6-11, 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 12-10).
The other semi-finals fixture produced another win for Germany as Dimitrij Ovtcharov came out on top against Frenchman Simon Gauzy.
Second seed Dimitrij Ovtcharov required the full distance to see off the seventh seeded contestant Simon Gauzy (6-11, 11-2, 11-8, 10-12, 7-11, 11-4, 11-8) to guarantee the top two steps of the podium for Germany.
Two further matches followed the conclusion of the semi-finals, the first of which saw Ma Long seal his spot on the medals podium with a positive display against Simon Gauzy (11-5, 11-13, 6-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9) in the third place play-off. Despite missing out on the gold medal, Ma Long maintains his 100% podium record at the Men’s World Cup.
Then came the main event as fellow compatriots Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Timo Boll met face-to-face for the title.
Nothing separated the two German competitors by the conclusion of the opening four games of the final, but Dimitrij Ovtcharov ended the match as the stronger player and eventually secured the trophy with a six games victory (10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-2).
“I could never have imagined a few years ago that I could win the World Cup. I think the support from my family was very helpful because without them I would not have been here today as the champion. I am privileged to be listed amongst the World Cup winners. Particularly I must acknowledge the quality of Timo Boll who defeated two great Chinese players on his way to the final. I could see he was a bit tired. He was not moving very well having played some fantastic matches. I think he deserves the victory as much as I do. I think I will have to go home and celebrate with my family.” Dimitrij Ovtcharov
Dimitrij Ovtcharov failed to progress beyond the Round of 16 at last year’s edition of the tournament in Saarbrücken but one year on in Liège he becomes the third German player to lift the Men’s World Cup trophy, joining Timo Boll and Jörg Rosskopf in achieving the feat.