by Ian Marshall, Editor
Whatever the results of previous encounters may suggest, between Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov, friends and members of the same national team, they counted for naught.
The fact was reflected in the opening game, Timo Boll made the better start but the verdict went in favour of Dimitrij Ovtcharov, after having twice saving game points and having had one of his own.
One day earlier at the quarter-final stage, Timo Boll had lost the first game against Tomokazu Harimoto after having held an early lead and had then started the second game in the fast lane. It was not too dissimilar against Dimitrij Ovtcharov. He went ahead 4-1, Dimitrij Ovtcharov reduced the gap to 7-5 but was never able to gain parity, he saved two game points but could not save a third.
Parity, the ability to execute a strong first attack paramount; Dimitrij Ovtcharov established an 8-5 lead in the third game, Timo Boll won the next two points, Dimitrij Ovtcharov called “Time Out”. The benefit of hindsight, it did not prove the wisest decision. Timo Boll levelled at 8-all; then led 10-8 before eventually winning the game after both players had held and saved game points.
A close third game, the fourth was just the same, the level of the rallies rising, the verdict by the minimal two point margin to Dimitrij Ovtcharov, after a stupendous running backhand at 9-all had given him the advantage.
Now both players warmed to the task, the level of the exchanges ever rising; Timo Boll won the first four points of the fifth game. Dimitrij Ovtcharov responded to level at 5-all, again as in the previous game the scores were level at 9-all, before at 10-9 Dimitrij Ovtcharov for the first time in the game held the lead. It was to be the only time he held the lead.
“We’ve been playing together for 15 years, so we know each other very well. There were some nice rallies and it was a super close match. I had my chances in the third and fifth set to build a good lead, but unfortunately I was not clever enough in those moments and that’s the difference.” Dimitrij Ovtcharov
Now increasingly confident, Timo Boll dominated the sixth game, for the sixth time in his career he was in the final of a Men’s World Cup.