by Ian Marshall, Editor
Timo Boll has won the tournament six times; the man he is trying to catch is Sweden’s Jan-Ove Waldner, the winner on no less than seven occasions.
Now Timo Boll tries for the second time; last year it was the same but he fell just fell short. He was beaten at the semi-final stage by Dimitrij Ovtcharov; bronze was the colour of the medal, he overcame Austria’s Daniel Habesohn in the third place contest.
Judging by recent form at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the men’s singles semi-finalist, is the player to beat but does not Timo Boll enter the fray with perhaps more confidence than last year? The year 2019 was one of consistency, the highlight being winning the men’s singles title at the European Games and thus immediately reserving his Tokyo 2020 Olympic place.
Experienced, now 38 years old, able to adapt; that has been a crucial factor in the career of Timo Boll, crucial with regards to the current tournament which has witnessed a variety of formats. Notably, of the successes, Timo Boll won on five excursions when the event was known as the Europe Top 12, the tournament becoming the Europe Top 16 in 2015 in Baku.
Timo Boll wins:
- 2002 Rotterdam
- 2003 Saarbrücken
- 2006 Copenhagen
- 2009 Düsseldorf
- 2010 Düsseldorf
- 2018 Montreux
Commencing in 2001, four groups formed the initial stage, players finishing in first place progressing to the semi-finals, one year later players finishing in first and second places advanced; the quarter-final round commencing the main draw. In 2018, there was a further adaptation when the tournament was first held in Montreux; the current system of knock-out from start to finish was introduced.
Similarly Jan-Ove Waldner won in different systems; from 1971 until 1989, the all-play-all format was used, a demanding schedule, no less than 11 matches scheduled for each player. On four occasions Jan-Ove Waldner won when that system was in operation.
Jan-Ove Waldner wins:
- 1984 Bratislava
- 1986 Södertälje
- 1988 Ljubljana
- 1989 Charleroi
- 1993 Copenhagen
- 1995 Dijon
- 1996 Charleroi
In 1990 and until the end of the century, the policy of two initial stage groups, each of six players was adopted, first and second placed player progressing to the semi-finals; three times the legendary Swede succeeded.
Now in recent times Dimitrij Ovtcharov is very much the man of the moment. He has won on five of the most recent seven editions and four of the most recent five.
Dimitrij Ovtcharov wins:
- 2015 Baku
- 2016 Gondomar
- 2017 Antibes
- 2019 Montreux
Moreover, on the most recent five, he has always reached the final, in 2018 he finished in runners up spot; he is the only player to win the men’s title on three consecutive occasions.
Win in three different decades the target
Playing under different systems; there is one player on duty in Montreux who has played under more different formats than any other, the fourth in the order of merit, Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus. He has won four times.
Vladimir Samsonov wins
- 1998 Halmstad
- 1999 Split
- 2001 Wels
- 2007 Arezzo
Now in 2020 can he become the only man to win the title in three different decades? He came mighty close last year; in the final, he held two match points in the seventh game before losing four in a row as Dimitrij Ovtcharov prevailed (6-11, 11-8, 11-3, 14-16, 6-11, 11-7, 12-10).
Repeat performances; it is well within the bounds of possibility. Timo Boll, Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Vladimir Samsonov have the experience, moreover they have the class, they have the quality; their records speak for themselves.