by Ian Marshall
Against 1.FC Saarbrücken, he brought matters to a conclusion by overcoming Shang Kun by the narrowest of margins (11-3, 8-11, 11-4, 6-11, 6-5), underlining the fact that under severe pressure he has the mental stability to respond.
Notably it was the third occasion during the whole eight days when he had emerged successful by the minimum one point margin in the deciding fifth game. Earlier, in the group stage against GV Hennebont he had done the same when facing Omar Assar and also in opposition to KS Decorative Glass Dzialdowo when confronting Jakub Dyjas.
On the concluding day of action, it was an uninhibited Anton Källberg who entered the arena; in the second match of the fixture, he had beaten Patrick Franziska in some style. Playing at a fast tempo, seizing every opportunity he gave his adversary minimal time to draw breath; a four games outcome (11-2, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6) was the verdict.
“I hoped for such an outcome, but even I did not believe I could beat both Shang Kun and Patrick Franziska. We had a great tournament, perfectly organised and it was great to play with so many good clubs.” Anton Källberg
Success for Anton Källberg against Patrick Franziska doubled the advantage for the champions elect, in the opening contest Timo Boll had given Borussia Düsseldorf the lead in an engagement very much against previous trends. Facing Shang Kun, the match went the full distance; throughout the tournament, a player gaining an early two point lead in the decider had more often than not prevailed; on this occasion it was quite the reverse.
Timo Boll lost the first four points, electing for “time out” after losing the second; thoughts flashed back to the previous evening when against Jonathan Groth, he had not recorded a single point, losing all six in a row! One day later, it was very different, he recovered, won six in a row (9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 4-11, 6-4) to give Borussia Düsseldorf the impetus.
“I am so happy. There was a lot of pressure on our shoulders. If you play in a club like Borussia Düsseldorf, everyone expects you to win trophies. Källberg played at position number one, our plan was to start with a win. We wanted Källberg against Franziska and me against Shang. I lost my previous matches against Franziska so we decided this way; in matches like this you have to keep on winning. I was stretched the full distance, but you have to fight until the last point, especially in the fifth game, when there are only six points. Table tennis is a lot about self-confidence.” Timo Boll
Two matches to nil in arrears, 1.FC Saarbrücken faced a monumental task; they needed to repeat their quarter-final recovery against GV Hennebont when, likewise, they had lost the opening two engagements. After losing the first game against Kristian Karlsson, Darko Jorgic proved safe a secure, recording a three games victory (4-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-3) to give his team a ray of hope.
The ray was extinguished by Anton Källberg, the man of the moment, the tournament’s most valuable player.
“We had great moments here, but at the end Borussia Düsseldorf played a perfect match, especially Anton. We had a good chance when Shang Kun had a 4-0 advantage against Boll in the first match. It was important; unfortunately, he lost the sudden death point in the last match against Källberg.” Patrick Franziska
It is the 11th time that Borussia Düsseldorf has won the Table Tennis Champions League Men since the competition superseded the Europe Club Cup of Champions in the season 1998/1999, an event they won six times; a quite remarkable record, one that will most certainly stand the test of time.
Friday 18th December
1.FC SAARBRÜCKEN 1-3 BORUSSIA DÜSSELDORF
Shang Kun v Timo Boll 11-9, 6-11, 7-11, 11-4, 4-6
Patrick Franziska v Anton Källberg 2-11, 7-11, 11-9, 6-11
Darko Jorgic v Kristian Karlsson 4-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-3
Shang Kun v Anton Källberg 3-11, 11-8, 4-11, 11-6