by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
He has won the Men’s Singles title on four occasions, the same as China’s Ma Long but in addition Timo Boll has been the Men’s Singles runner up twice and the Men’s Doubles winner four times. Ma Long also reached the Men’s Singles final in 2005 in Magdeburg when losing to Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus but in Germany he has never appeared in a Men’s Doubles final.
However, Magdeburg, the home for this year’s tournament has never been the happiest of hunting grounds for Timo Boll; on the three prior occasions the city has played host, he has never reached the Men’s Singles final. In Bremen, he won in 2007 and 2015, whilst being the runner up in 2012; in Berlin he succeeded in 2010 and 2016, in 2011 in Dortmund he was the silver medallist.
It is the same in the Men’s Doubles event; never the finalist in Magdeburg!
Partnering Christian Süss he emerged successful in 2004 in Leipzig and in 2009 in Bremen; in harness with Patrick Franziska, he struck gold in Berlin in 2013 and in what must be a favourite city, in 2015 again in Bremen.
Alongside Vladimir Samsonov, who in addition to his 2005 success in Magdeburg won four years earlier in Bayreuth and is the no.12 seed this year, Timo Boll is one of five previous winners on duty.
Colleague Dimitrij Ovtcharov is the no.3 seed, he won in 2012 in Bremen and in 2014 in Magdeburg. Meanwhile, China’s Fan Zhendong, the top seed and Zhang Jike, the no.5 seed, have both enjoyed success; conversely for colleague Xu Xin, the no.2 seed, he has never appeared in a German Open final.
Fan Zhendong won in 2013 in Berlin, Zhang Jike in 2011 in Dortmund; in Magdeburg they could well meet the players they overcame in the respective finals. Zhang Jike beat Timo Boll, Fan Zhendong accounted for Dimitrij Ovtcharov.
Prominent in the Men’s Singles event, in the Men’s Doubles competition, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin are also prominent; they are the no.2 seeds. Japan’s Koki Niwa and Jin Ueda occupy the top seeded spot.
Major title contenders from China as is the norm; in the Under 21 Men’s Singles event the Chinese name to note is that of Xue Fei, the winner earlier this year at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Hybiome Austria Open.
He is the no.3 seed; Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit heads the list; Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting is the no.2 seed.