Tournaments

22 Oct 2017

Crowned European champion in Schwechat in 2013 and two years later in Ekaterinburg, whilst having won the Europe Top 16 title on the three most recent occasions the tournament has been staged, on Sunday 22nd October, Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov climbed one step higher.

In the Belgian city of Liège, the 29 year old won the Liebherr 2017 ITTF Men’s World Cup title; the no.2 seed, at the final hurdle he overcame colleague, Timo Boll, the no.3 seed, in six games (10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-2).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Trailing three games to two one wondered if Timo Boll could produce another dramatic recovery.

Against China’s Lin Gaoyuan, the no. 6 seed, at the quarter-final stage, he had performed a remarkable fightback, emerging successful from three games to one in arrears. One round later when facing the latter’s colleague, Ma Long, the top seed, he had achieved exactly the same feat.

In the final, Dimitrij Ovtcharov had other ideas; in the sixth game he closed the door in a most firm manner.

“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

Great credit must go Dimitrij Ovtcharov playing in his first ever Men’s World Cup final; equally one must applaud Timo Boll, at 36 years young, the oldest player in the tournament and competing in a fifth Men’s World Cup final.

Notably when the tournament has been held in Liège; he has always reached the final; he won in 2005, three years later he was the runner up. Additionally in 2002 he won in Jinan, more recently in 2012 he was the runner up in Liverpool.

It was the first time that two German players had contested the final of the Men’s World Cup since the tournament was first staged in 1980 in Hong Kong. Two players from the same country in the title deciding contest is not new; China has achieved the feat on no less than nine occasions but it was only the second time such a situation has occurred when the finalists were not Chinese.

Over three decades ago, in 1983 in Barbados, Mikael Appelgren beat Jan-Ove Waldner in all Swedish final; in fact such was the dominance of the Nordic country on that occasion, they also secured third place. Erik Lindh emerged the bronze medallist. Such a situation is not possible in the modern era; a national association being limited to two players in the event.

An all European final in 1983, the title deciding contest this year was the fifth time when two players from the old continent had competed for the top prize at a Men’s World Cup.

Additional to the success of Mikael Appelgren; in 1991 in Kuala Lumpur, Jörgen Persson, also from Sweden, had beaten Frenchman Jean-Philippe Gatien in the final, before three years later in Taipei City Jean-Philippe Gatien struck gold at the expense of Belgium’s Jean-Michel Saive. The one other occasion is the most recent; in 1999 in Xiaolin, Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus overcame Austria’s Werner Schlager to seal the top prize.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov now joins an elite group not only from Europe but from the whole planet.

Liebherr 2017 ITTF Men’s World Cup: Latest Results

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