by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
No place in the main draw in the Malaysian capital city but it was without Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Timo Boll, both injured; now back to full fitness, in the west coast Swedish city it is a very different scenario.
“Germany is the top seed but it doesn’t feel as though we are the top seed. China is the favourite and their players are in good shape. However, Dima is fit, everyone is fit and for us 2017 was a good year. I hope we can do well but, in addition to China, there is strong competition from Japan and Korea; also from Sweden!” Timo Boll
The Japanese team with 14 year old Tomokazu Harimoto on duty presents intriguing opposition; notably on the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour, Timo Boll beat Tomokazu Harimoto in China but then lost when the pair met in the final in the Czech Republic.
“Tomokazu Harimoto, he is one of the best in the world, now I know him well, I played him last year. He is highly motivated, I remember when I was his age I had to be pushed by my coaches.” Timo Boll
In Halmstad, Tomokazu Harimoto, who lines up alongside Kenta Matsudaira, Jun Mizutani, Koki Niwa and Yuya Oshima, is the one player in the outfit making his debut in a World Team Championships. Unquestionably, he is a young man who is not overawed by the magnitude of any occasion, a fact he proved last year at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf when he reached the quarter-final round of the Men’s Singles event.
“Yes, it’s the first time for me to play in a World Team Championships; I’m looking forward to competing against the top players.” Tomokazu Harimoto.
Now one year ago when Tomokazu Harimoto was selected for the Liebherr 2017 World Championships, it raised eyebrows in some quarters; this year in Halmstad is he not a first team selection alongside Jun Mizutani and Koki Niwa?
Equally, surely Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Timo Boll are automatic choices for Germany but who does Jörg Rosskopf select to complete the line-up?
Bastian Steger served him well at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, whilst earlier this year playing on home soil Patrick Franziska reached the Men’s Singles semi-finals and Ruwen Filus used his defensive skills to good effect to beat Tomokazu Harimoto.
Tough choice, it’s over to you Mr Rosskopf.