World Championships | 25 May 2023

OVTCHAROV and FRANZISKA Clinched Medal at World Championships Finals in Durban


Prior to their departure to Durban, German table tennis players won a total of 56 medals since the championships began in 1926. Today, Patrick FRANZISKA and Dimitrij OVTCHAROV added another medal, the 57th for Germany, in the Men's Doubles event. The color of the medal is yet to be determined. In the doubles category, this is only the third time Germany has reached the podium. In 1989, Jörg ROSSKOPF, the current Men's National Team coach, and Steffen FETZNER clinched historic gold in Dortmund. In 2005, Timo BOLL and Christian SUSS secured silver in Shanghai, China.

This afternoon, Patrick FRANZISKA and Dimitrij OVTCHAROV triumphed over the strong English pair Liam PITCHFORD and Paul DRINKHALL in an emotional quarterfinal match, winning in four sets. They will now face South Koreans LIM Jonghoon and JANG Woojin in the semifinals on Friday at 14:40. In the other semifinal match, Chinese players FAN Zhendong and WANG Chuqin will take on CHO Daeseong and LEE Sang Su of South Korea. LIM Jonghoon and JANG Woojin dashed the hopes of Swedish players Mattias FALCK and Kristian KARLSSON of a successful title defense.

Trailing 0-1 in sets and 4-8 in the second game, the German duo found their rhythm in this high-quality match to secure a medal. After losing 7-11 to the strong English pair, FRANZISKA and OVTCHAROV rallied back to win the crucial second set with a score of 11-9. In the third and fourth sets, they displayed a dominant performance, leaving their opponents with little chance of a comeback.

The combination of Patrick FRANZISKA, who possesses winning shots and also plays the role of a playmaker, and the ruthless executioner Dimitrij OVTCHAROV has grown stronger with each round in Durban. This doubles partnership, which was not originally planned and came about due to Timo BOLL'S injury, surprised and deservedly earned their place among the top four pairs in the world by defeating world-class combinations such as WONG Chun Ting and HO Kwan Kit from Hong Kong, as well as Yukiya UDA and Shunsuke TOGAMI from Japan.

Patrick Franziska commented, "We feel comfortable being the underdogs."

Now, they are just one victory away from securing at least a silver medal. However, their opponents in the semifinals are of high caliber. LIM Jonghoon and JANG Woojin, ranked 11th and 13th in the world in singles, respectively, are a well-established pair who reached the World Championship final in Houston in 2021. Franziska embraces the underdog role, saying, "Against the runners-up, we will give it our all, just like we have been doing all along. So far, almost everyone has been the favorite against us. We feel comfortable being a bit unorthodox and the underdogs. The two Koreans have been playing together for many years and have always been very aggressive and strong in doubles. But both of us are improving from one doubles match to another."

“Liam PITCHFORD and Paul DRINKHALL initially overwhelmed us, being incredibly aggressive in serves and returns, and playing with great variation. We didn't know where the ball would land next. At 0-1 and 4-8, we took a timeout and told each other, 'We need to stay focused. They surely can't keep up this level of play. And if they do, then it's just outstanding from them.' And that's exactly what happened: We stayed in the game, which is our greatest strength. Dima is extremely good at that, and I can witness it up close in doubles. We maintained a high quality in our shots," said FRANZISKA.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov breathed a sigh of relief after securing a spot in the medal rounds:

"Winning my first medal at an individual World Championships somehow feels unreal. I haven't trained properly for doubles in many years, and then to win a medal here... I think I'm playing well in doubles, and Franz prepares the balls incredibly well for me. We have great synergy, and I feel like we already understand each other's moves. It's a lot of fun, and I'm naturally proud of us."

Yesterday, the Olympic bronze medalist suffered a bitter defeat against Croatian player Tomislav PUCAR, unexpectedly missing the anticipated Round of 16:

 "Shaking off the singles loss from yesterday was extremely difficult. The defeat hurt a lot. I had set high expectations for myself and had ambitious goals, so when you deliver such a performance far below your potential... I only fell asleep at 6:30 AM this morning and woke up at 10:30. There wasn't much happening before that. Hence, I was a bit tired in the morning and took a cold shower. But you don't play a quarterfinal at an individual World Championships every day, at least I never have before. That's why I gave it my all in the doubles today, and with 'Franz' as my partner, it's not too difficult either."