by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Arguably, the year 2017 was the very best in the career of Dimitrij Ovtcharov, winning the Liebherr Men’s World Cup and reaching the final of the Men’s Singles event at the Seamaster ITTF World Tour Grand Finals were peak moments.
The end result was that he started the year at the very top of the Men’s World Rankings, early this month surrendering the position to Timo Boll; a place in the final in Bremen would have taken him back to the top of the list. Now that position is destined for China’s Fan Zhendong, the winner of the Men’s Singles title at the recent Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open in Doha.
Notably it is the fourth occasion this year that injury has forced Dimitrij Ovtcharov to withdraw from a prestigious event.
In February he competed in the group stage of proceedings at the 2018 ITTF Team World Cup in London but was not able to continue. He did not play in the knock-out phase. Later, in February, scheduled to compete in the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open in Doha, injury forced him to cancel the entry. Furthermore, he did not play in the German National Championships.
“It’s the same injury that forced me to withdraw from the World Team Cup during the tournament when I had tried at the beginning but I realised later on it was too painful. Afterwards I withdrew from the German National Championships and Qatar Open which were all in my plans. I came here to try to play in a competition without big pain but as the match progressed the pain got worse, especially the irregular movement. I will go to the doctor on Monday, I will see what they say, how long it will take before I’m fully recovered we will know at the beginning of next week.” Dimitrj Ovtcharov
Now, the fitness of Dimitrij Ovtharov is a cause for German concern; he did not compete in the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur owing to injury, a tournament in which also Timo Boll was absent and a finish outside the top 16 was the end result.
Now with the Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships only some five weeks distant there must be concern in the national camp; a Kuala Lumpur repeat is not part of the German plans.