by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Omar Assar who spent three years at the Halmstad Club and is to join Borussia Düsseldorf, the club where Timo Boll plays, was the man in form. In the second match of the fixture, he beat Ruwen Filus (4-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9), after Timo Boll had given Germany the early advantage by overcoming Mohamed El-Beiali (11-4, 11-5, 11-4).
Matters level, Dimitrij Ovtcharov restored the German advantage by overcoming Khalid Assar (14-12, 11-7, 9-11- 11-6), before Omar Assar caused a surprise of note; he beat Timo Boll in five games (11-9, 6-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-8).
“Though we lost, I think I am happy that I did not disappoint the Halmstad fans. It was a good home coming for me beating Timo Boll in front of the Halmstad fans where I lived for over three years. I am so happy personally with my performance against the Germans and generally as a team it was a good start for us. I am happy I made my fans in Halmstad very happy today. Apart from winning against Timo Boll, I have learned a lot from him because we train together and he has defeated me three times before today. I am so fascinated with his behaviour outside the table even when he loses. He is very calm and respectful and for me these are parts of what I wish to learn and will learn from him in my new club. He has brought a lot of positive to table tennis and I want to continue to learn from him.” Omar Assar.
Once again the contest level; the outcome rested on the duel between Ruwen Filus and Mohamed El-Beiali, the decision went in favour of the German, his ability to combine stout defence and spasmodic attack a telling factor in a straight games win (11-5, 11-6, 11-8).
“The match was very tough and not as people has expected, because the first match is always very difficult. At the end of the day, what matters is that we won. I must also say that Omar Assar played very well today to win two matches. For me I don’t think I am 100 percent fit having rested for three weeks before the World Championship. I had thought I would be fit but from the way I played today, I don’t think I am fit fully. However, this is World Championships, it is always good to fight for your country when it matters and that is why we will continue to fight as a team in this tournament.” Dimitrij Ovtcharov
Defeat for Egypt but a most respectable performance in their opening fixture in the Men’s Team event; it was the same earlier in the Women’s Team competition where the three-nil score-line against Hungary did not reflect the efforts made by Farah Abdel-Aziz, Dina Meshref and Youra Helmy.
“Being the first time we are playing in the Championship Division, we would like to remain the division and that is why we must ensure we do well in the group stage. Despite losing to Hungary, we must remain focused and hope that we remain in the Championship in 2020. Also, the new ball made it very difficult for us against the Hungarian because this is the first time we will be using it. But we hope to adapt to it with time as we progress in the Championship.” Dina Meshref
Farah Abdel-Aziz extended Georgina Pota the full five match distance (11-5, 10-12, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6), before Dina Meshref was beaten in four games by Dora Madarasz (12-14, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9). Matters concluded with Szandra Pergel beating Yousra Helmy in straight games (11-3, 11-6, 11-6).
“It was tough playing the first match because it is a new atmosphere having travelled from your country. First match is always very difficult but very important for any team. That we won three-nil was good for the team but I must admit for me it was a bit tasking particularly playing with the new ball which we started playing with few days ago. So you have to adapt to it in competition like this. However this does not matter as long as we won our first match. Our realistic goal in this tournament is to finish among the top 12 and to do this we must first of all negotiate the group and that is what we believe we can achieve in this competition. We can dream of medal but realistically, finishing top 12 is an achievable dream.” Georgina Pota
Success for Germany and Hungary but great consolation for Egypt; they responded magnificently against two nation’s steeped in the history of table tennis, two nations with a history of success.