by Ian Marshall, Editor
Occupying no.10 seeded position, he beat Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan by the very narrowest of margins (8-11, 14-12, 16-18, 11-9, 3-11, 11-6, 12-10) an engagement that kept the faithful on the very edges of the seats.
After holding game point in the third game, he saved game point after game point, before eventually succumbing; he recovered to win the next. In the fifth game he was never really at the races, unusually for Dimitrij Ovtcharov being faulted on his forehand high thrown service.
Gave supporters heartache
No doubt boiling inside, to his credit he laid history to rest, no dissent and came back stronger.
He secured the sixth game without drama, before in the seventh winning the first five points. It was at that stage, he gave his supporters heartache. Chuang Chih-Yuan won six of the next seven points to level matters before going ahead 8-7.
Again, as throughout the match, lose a game reply and win the next, Dimitrij Ovtcharov responded; at 10-9 he held match point, Chuang Chih-Yuan saved before at the second attempt the chance was taken.
Credit to Dimitrij Ovtcharov and credit to Chuang Chih-Yuan who last year did not enjoy the greatest of success. The best was a men’s singles semi-final finish at the ITTF Challenge Croatia Open, the greatest success on the 2019 ITTF World Tour, a quarter-final exit in Bulgaria.
He finished the year in the no.31 spot on the men’s singles standing, significantly after playing in all 12 tournaments on the 2019 ITTF World Tour calendar.
Notably for Dimitrij Ovtcharov he maintained his liking for Magdeburg; on three occasions he has won the men’s singles title at an ITTF World Tour tournament in Germany; twice in Magdeburg, in 2014 and in 2017.
Defeat for Chuang Chih-Yuan and for another 38 year old; earlier in the day Timo Boll, the no.9 seed, time and again the German hero, was beaten by China’s Fan Zhendong, the no.2 seed, a contest that was equally hard fought.
It was not to as dramatic as the seven games verdict in favour of the Chinese star last November in Austria but it was mighty close; Fan Zhendong eventually prevailed in six games (11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-9).
Defeats for Timo Boll and Chuang Chih-Yuan; just one sobering thought, both will be eligible for the World Veteran Championships in 2022 in Oman!