by Ian Marshall, Editor
In 2009, somewhat ironically, Michael Maze won on German soil in Stuttgart when the odds favoured the host nation; meanwhile, Vladimir Samsonov succeeded in 2003 in Courmayeur and two years later in Aarhus. More recently in 2016, Emmanuel Lebesson prevailed in Budapest.
Otherwise since Sweden’s Peter Karlsson donned the crown in 2000 in Bremen, the European Men’s Singles title has been the prized possession of either Timo Boll or Dimitrij Ovtcharov; way ahead of the field, Timo Boll has won six times, Dimitrij Ovtcharov twice.
Currently Timo Boll is listed at no.4 on the Men’s World Rankings; Dimitrij Ovtcharov is one place lower. They are the leading names on duty in Alicante but note their compatriots; they also present formidable opposition. They could well prove stumbling blocks for major names and at the end of the day may well be major names themselves, a place reserved on the podium.
Currently, on the Men’s World Rankings, Patrick Franziska is listed at no.16, Ricardo Walther at no.42 and Benedikt Duda at no.50. Notably, the name of Ruwen Flus, standing at no.19 does not appear, he plays only in the Men’s Doubles partnering Ricardo Walther and in the Mixed Doubles alongside Han Ying. Equally, occupying the no.35 spot in the global order, crucial to Germany’s bronze medal in the Men’s Team event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the name of Bastien Steger does not appear at all.
A total of seven players in the top 50 of the current Men’s World Rankings, such is Germany’s current situation.
Now what a difference the Millennium has made; prior to 2002 when Timo Boll won in Zagreb, the only German to win the Men’s Singles title at a European Championships, the event being first held in Budapest in 1958, was the man who will be the guiding hand in Alicante, the national coach, Jörg Rosskopf.
England’s Brian Watkins sitting in the umpire’s chair, Jörg Rosskopf won in 1992 in Stuttgart beating Belgium’s Jean-Michel Saive in the final.
Success for Jörg Rosskopf, now sitting courtside, in an era when Germany has an abundance of riches, will he guide a compatriot to success? It will be a brave man who bets against such an outcome.