by Ian Marshall, Editor
However, did not a breath of fresh air blow through the Salle Omnisport du Pierrier? Making his debut in the tournament with long and rich history, unquestionably 21 year old Darko Jorgic was the young man to steal the limelight; the no.14 seed, he more than exceeded expectations.
- Round One: beat Vladimir Samsonov (Belarus) 8-11,11-4, 11-9, 11-7, 12-10
- Quarter-Final: beat Wang Yang (Slovakia) 11-7, 11-8, 12-10, 6-11, 22-20
- Semi-Final: beat Tomislav Pucar (Croatia) 4-11, 11-1, 13-11, 15-13, 11-8
- Final: lost Timo Boll (Germany) 8-11, 12-10, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8
The modern day player, strong from the backhand, Darko Jorgic is guiding Slovenia to new heights; he was the backbone of his country’s success at the recent 2020 World Team Qualification tournament. He has now succeeded Bojan Tokic as his nation’s top player.
Next target, can he match arguably the greatest Slovenian of them all, the now 75 year old Edvard Vecko? In the 1960s when the country was part of what was then known as Yugoslavia, he joined forces with the likes Zlatko Cordas, Istvan Korpa, Anton Stpancic and Dragutin Surbek to make the nation one of Europe’s most powerful outfits, notably men’s team bronze medallists at the Munich 1969 World Championships.
However, before we can gaze long term into the crystal ball, we must look short term, a men’s singles title at an open international tournament; that is where Timo Boll sets the standard. He has won a total of 19 such titles on the ITTF World Tour but note when he won his first, it was 2001 in São Paulo, Brazil when he beat Belgium’s Jean-Michel Saive in the final.
It was not until the following year in Rotterdam when Timo Boll won the first of what is now seven titles at the event which started life as the Europe Top 12 and since 2015 in Baku, has been the Europe Top 16.
In the current era, one may equate the success achieved by Timo Boll almost a decade ago in São Paulo as victory in a Challenge Series tournament but that is a feat no player present on the concluding day of play in Montreux, other than the illustrious German, has ever achieved.
At Challenge Series tournaments the best for Darko Jorgic is a quarter-final finish in 2018 in Poland and Belgium; for Austria’s Robert Gardos, the runner up in 2018 in Spain, 2019 in Nigeria and Paraguay, for Croatia’s Tomislav Pucar, a semi-final finish last year in Oman and Croatia.
It is no different at open international tournaments for the four female players who reached the last four in Montreux. The best for Petrissa Solja, who to her great credit finished in third place at the 2015 ITTF Women’s World Cup in Sendai and successfully retained her title in Montreux, is a quarter-final finish on the ITTF World Tour in 2015 in Hungary and the following year in Qatar.
Likewise for Britt Eerland her best is the last eight, the round she reached in 2017 on the ITTF World Tour in Hungary and at the Challenge Series tournament in Slovenia. Meanwhile, Austria’s Sofia Polcanova and Ukraine’s Sofia Polcanova, it is so near yet so far, at ITTF Challenge Series tournaments, in 2018 Sofia Polcanova was the runner up in Croatia, in 2019 the same fate befell Margaryta Pesotska in Slovenia.
All need to climb the next step, the steps Timo Boll has climbed, the man who sets the standard.
Is the conclusion from Montreux that of the group the favourite to climb the next step is Darko Jorgic?