by Ian Marshall, Editor
Notably, Vladimir Samsonov was Jörg Rosskopf’s successor, he won the following year in Xiaolan, before succeeding later in 2001 in Courmayeur and then to the delight of the Russian fans he prevailed in 2009 in Moscow; the memories of the early years of his career when he represented the Soviet Union were in the hearts of the locals. It was for them a home win.
Success for Vladimir Samsonov who had made his debut in Nîmes in 1996, having been present the previous year as the reserve and crestfallen when there were no absentees; following his success in Courmayeur, Timo Boll won in 2002 in Jinan. Later in 2005 he was to regain the title in Liège.
Both wins were quite remarkable; in 2002, only 21 years old, he was making his debut in the prestigious tournament. In 2005 after losing to Vladimir Samsonov in the group stage and finishing in second place, he beat the elite Chinese trio of Wang Liqin, Ma Lin and Wang Hao to arrest the title.
Now in 2018, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, 30 years of age, a player from a younger generation than that of his illustrious counterparts, after making his debut ten years earlier in Liège, is the defending champion.
History suggests he has a monumental task if he is to win again; irrespective of the names present in Paris, only China’s Ma Lin and Wang Hao, the former in 2004 in Xiaoshan, the latter in 2008 in Liège, have completed the feat.
Furthermore, somewhat plagued by injury; this year has been one Dimitrij ,Ovtcharov may prefer to forgot. Notably in February, he reached the final of the Europe Top 16 Cup in Montreux beaten by Timo Boll but since that date, on the international scene, there he has been no headline level of success. The best finish of the year on the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour, to date, is a quarter-final exit in the Czech Republic; meanwhile, at the recent Liebherr 2018 ITTF European Championships in Alicante, he was beaten in round three by Vladimir Samsonov.
Success for Vladimir Samsonov but in the very next round in Alicante, the quarter-finals, he suffered at the hands of Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu; also, like Vladimir Samsonov, his Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour best is a quarter-final exit in Bulgaria.
The conclusion, if any member if the “Big Three” is likely to shine in Paris, the evidence points to Timo Boll, no Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Men’s Singles title this year, a semi-final in Japan his best but having won the Men’s Singles title at the recent Liebherr 2018 ITTF European Championships, he is the man in form.
However, whichever member of the group shines; it is to their great credit that throughout the current century their names have been touted time and time again as the challengers to the might of Asia, the might of China. It is that same at the Liebherr 2018 ITTF Men’s World Cup.