by Ian Marshall, Editor
He is the no.2 seed, behind German national team colleague, Timo Boll, the player who ended his hopes last year in both Montreux and in Paris.
It was for Dimitrij Ovtcharov the story of the year; after a quite outstanding 2017, in addition to his Liebherr Men’s World Cup success, he won four Seamaster ITTF World Tour men’s singles titles and finished in runners up spot at the Grand Finals. The results meant he started the New Year in top spot on the world rankings.
Injuries, the year 2018 was quite the antithesis; a silver medal at the Liebherr World Team Championships in Halmstad but he did not play in the final, his best on the Seamaster ITTF World Tour quarter-final finishes in the Czech Republic and Sweden. The outcome, there was no place in the Grand Finals, he finished the year in 29th position on the Standings and when the men’s world rankings were issued for January 2019, he was listed no.14.
Now, Dimitrij Ovtcharov faces the most testing challenge of his career; to return to the heights of 2017.
Moreover, could there be a better place to start than at the CCB Europe Top 16? The record of Dimitrij Ovtcharov in the tournament stands among the best of all time.
In terns of titles, Sweden’s Jan-Ove Waldner heads the list; between 1983 in Cleveland and 1999 in Split, he won on no less than seven occasions. Next in line is Timo Boll, commencing with success on debut in 2002 in Rotterdam, he has won six times.
However, Dimitrij Ovtcharov is the only player to have won the event, which started life in 1971 in Zadar as the Europe Top 12, on three consecutive occasions. He won in 2015 in Baku when the tournament became the Europe Top 16 before retaining the title in 2016 in Gondomar and again one year later in Antibes. In fact you can add to that incredible record; in 2012 he won in Lyon, before in 2014 in Lausanne finishing in the bronze medal position.
There was no tournament in 2013; thus in a seven year period, six tournaments, always he has been a medallists: four gold, one silver, one bronze.
It compares most favourably with the record of Jan-Over Waldner. Between 1986 in Södertälje and 1991 in Hertogenbosch, he was three times the winner, three times the runner up; later from 1993 in Copenhagen to 1998 in Halmstad, he won three times, finished once the runner up and twice in third position.
A disappointing 2018 by his own high standards, the Europe Top 16 is special for Dimitrij Ovtcharov; the city is Montreux, surely no better place than to reignite his career.