French and German clubs have their own meetings in the TTCLM quarter-finalsPhoto: Courtesy LIEBHERR Ochsenhausen
First quarter-final games will be held this Thursday and Friday: Hennebont – Pontoise, Ochsenhausen – Borussia, Eslovs – Orenburg, Chartres – Saarbrucken
Table Tennis Champions League Men is continuing by the first quarter-final matches scheduled for this Thursday and Friday (January 26-27th). French and German clubs have their own meetings, G.V. HENNEBONT vs. AS PONTOISE CERGY and TTF LIEBHERR OCHSENHAUSEN vs. BORUSSIA DUSSELDORF, whilst other two pairs are ELOVS AL BORDTENNIS vs. FAKEL GAZPROM ORENBURG, CHARTRES ASTT vs. FC SAARBRUCKEN TISCHTENNIS.
“Ochsenhausen is a very difficult team to play and the strongest team in the draw we could get. The result is open, for both teams. The team of coach SKORIC has made a huge development and is now one of the best in Europe. A top game and highlight! But we have also good players and will fight for the semi-finals”, stressed Borussia`s manager Andreas PREUSS.
TTCLM record holder with 10 titles Borussia is a leader of Bundesliga with 8-1 score, ahead of Ochsenhausen, Fulda and Saarbrucken (all three 7-3). Two weeks ago Borussia defeated Ochsenhausen 3:2 after almost four hours. It was Round 11 of national league, held in the sold out ARAG CenterCort (1,100 spectators), decided by the rising star from Sweden Anton KALLBERG who got two points. Two strong players from both teams missed the clash: Timo BOLL and Stefan FEGERL in Borussia`s team, and Hugo CALDERANO and Yuto MURAMATSU in the opposite side. Obviously it was a part of strategy, focused on the TTCLM quarter-finals.
In the beginning of the season, Ochsenhause was better (3:1), as Hugo CALDERANO beat both Borussia`s newcomers, Stefan FEGERL and Kristian KARLSSON. The 20-year-old, world No. 20 Brazilian CALDERANO signed new contract with Dubravko SKORIC`s side, until the end of 2018/19 season.
Borussia and Ochsenhausen met in the 2009 TTCLM all-German final, when Dusseldorf`s side lifted the trophy. Now it will be interesting to see how Timo BOLL will manage with rising stars of Ochsenhausen, the club with the youngest line-up in the quarter-final.
Defending TTCLM champion AS Pontoise Cergy and G.V. Hennebont play in all-French quarter-final. Pontoise is 4th placed team of French Pro A league, Hennebont occupies 6th spot. Two months ago, Pontoise beat Hennebont 3:0 in the Round 5 of national league. Next Tuesday, one more super clash will be held in Pro A, again between two TTCLM quarter-finalists, Chartres vs. Pontoise.
Current runner-up Eslovs hosts triple TTCLM winner and top seed Orenburg. Russian team is a clear favorite, having three top 8 players in the ITTF World ranking list, Jun MIZUTANI (No. 5), Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (No. 6) and Vladimir SAMSONOV (No. 8). But, Swedish club beat the odds many times in the past. However, the vice-president and the head coach of TTC Fakel Gazprom Orenburg, Victor ANDREEV is careful:
“We have never played with the TTС Eslövs Ai Bordtennis. This is a very strong Swedish team. The Chinese player XU Hui has the best individual score after the group stage: 10-2. This club reached the TTCL quarterfinals, beating UMMC. Therefore, the match is to be persistent and exciting.Our players are working hard and determined to win.
Unique unbeaten team in the 2016/17 French Pro A league and the 2013 TTCLM runner-up, Chartres ASTT will host 2011/12 TTCLM semi-finalist Saarbrucken. Both sides finished their group stage with 4-2 score, but German club was the winner of Group C, whilst French team was second, behind Borussia Dusseldorf in the Group D.
TTCLM quarter-finals, 1st leg
G.V. HENNEBONT TT – AS PONTOISE CERGY (Thursday, Jan 26th, 19:30 CET)
TTF LIEBHERR OCHSENHAUSEN – BORUSSIA DUSSELDROF (Friday, Jan 27th, 18:00 CET)
ESLOVS AI BORDTENNIS – TTC FAKEL GAZPROM ORENBURG (Friday, Jan 27th, 19:00 CET)
CHARTRES ASTT – FC SAARBRUCKEN TISCHTENNIS (Friday, Jan 27th, 20:00 CET)