OVTCHAROV: I am the hunted onePhoto: Butterfly
For Germany the goal is always the same - top of Europe
The withdrawal of Timo BOLL from Teams and Doubles Events was a great setback for the German team before the start of the LIEBHERR 2015 ITTF European Championships in Ekaterinburg (25 Sep - 4 Oct 2015), but European vice-champions are still great contenders to the throne. Germany's lineup also includes names of Dimitrij OVTCHAROV, Patrick BAUM, Patrick FRANZISKA, Ruwen FILUS and Ricardo WALTHER, the players who will be very hard to beat in Russia.
Dimitrij OVTCHAROV suffered from serious back pain at the Baku European Games and during his Chinese Super League Season, but the current situation is much better.
"The back is currently much, much better than compared to the European Games in Baku or to China during the Super League. I am working very hard on it, do a lot of strengthening exercises for the back to move the issue out of the way. I'm on the right track. Sometimes it pinches a bit, but overall I'm quite alright," explained OVTCHAROV.
OVTCHAROV talked about the absence of Timo Boll in the team event and about his own goals in Ekaterinburg:
"The fact that Timo won’t be present is of course a disadvantage for our team. When Timo is with us and none of us suffers from injuries, we cannot be beaten in Europe. We had the situation before: When Timo wasn’t with us in 2013 we could win the title anyway. We are not the clear favorite in Ekaterinburg but winning the title is still possible for our team. I won all the top events in Europe. I am the hunted one, everyone wants to beat me. I'm not in the same shape as in 2013 when I played tremendously strong. But already at the European Games in Baku I have won the singles competition without being in top shape."
In the women's team are: HAN Ying, SHAN Xiaona, Petrissa SOLJA, Irene IVANCAN and Sabine WINTER. Sports Director Richard PRAUSE talked on the objectives of the women's team:
"We have a great generation of players who twice won the European title in a row and additionally the European Games. We want to be as successful again, but I must also stress the same thing as for our men’s team: The victory for the ladies is again not a self-selling item. The final in Baku was already on a knife edge. On this level very often nuances decide about who wins and who loses. All other teams are chasing us in Ekaterinburg. Our coaches are preparing our team well before this situation. We are ready."
Women’s Head Coach Jie SCHÖPP on the question of whether something else than the title counts for her:
"No, nothing else counts. We go out there to win the title. When I look at the world rankings, it is even a kind our duty to win. Anyway, it’s clear that giving 80 percent would not be enough. If we act like a team and give everything, then we are the best. "
SCHÖPP was satisfied with the the current shape of her players:
"Technically, they are all in very good shape. My task now is to let them gain the necessary ‘freshness’. As we played so many tournaments this year we had to adapt our preparation to it. Currently the second training session of a day is a voluntary one for the ladies. I want them all to be mentally and physically fit for the start of the European Championships.”
HAN Ying talked about her experience at the European Games - losing as the top-seed before time - and her current shape
"The European Games were a necessary experience for me. Since then I have improved significantly – especially mentally. In Baku I was under huge pressure as the number 1 seeded. Now I'm also placed on 1, but I do not care. I'll fight until the end in every match and don’t care whether I’m number 1 or number 40.I hope that my shape remains stable – I was very pleased with my performance at the Austrian Open of course - and I can possibly even play a little better. "