Champions League Men | 1 Apr 2024

1. FC Saarbrücken TT e.V. defended the title in thrilling end of the Final 4

Photo: C. JOST

In a fantastic and ecstatic atmosphere, in front of 2,450 spectators at the Saarlandhalle in Saarbrücken, FC Saarbrücken TT e.V. defended the title in the Champions League men in the ultimate match at the first-ever Final 4. The seven-time winners, Borussia Düsseldorf, were halted after 3.5 hours of breathtaking rallies and extraordinary points.

Borussia Düsseldorf - 1. FC Saarbrücken TT e.V. 2-3

Dang QIU - Darko JORGIC 1-3 (9-11, 4-11, 11-6, 11-13)

After a close finish in the opening game, Darko JORGIC shifted into another gear at the beginning of the next, winning it without any due alarm. With precise serving, QIU propelled himself back into the match, winning the third game in furious style with a 10-2 lead before eventually sealing the game at 11-6.

The fourth game brought big drama. JORGIC took a 6-2 lead, but QIU closed in at 5-6, prompting Saarbrücken coach Wang Zhi to call for a timeout. Darko scored the next two points, but QIU kept reducing the gap until it was tied at 10-10. QIU then took the lead at 11-10, but the last three points went to JORGIC'S account.

"It is always important to gain an advantage at the start of the match. The pressure was high, but I started really well. In the opening two games, I was dominant, but then QIU raised his game. Again, I had a better start in the fourth game. QIU came close and put a lot of pressure, but I gave my best to avoid the fifth game and the sudden-death finish. I was thinking, 'I do not want that stress; it is too much,'" said JORGIC.

Photo: C. JOST

Anton KALLBERG - Patrick FRANZISKA 0-3 (1-11, 8-11, 6-11)

The opening game was a one-man show. Franziska sealed it very quickly. KALLBERG managed to come back in the second game, but he wasn't strong enough to stop Patrick, who continued to dominate. It was in the third game when Anton launched his attack. He took a 5-1 lead but failed to maintain control. Patrick recovered and built a 7-5 lead, pushing for victory, which he secured at 11-6.

"I was confident, but that's what we have to be. We are defending our title here, and we have to give our best," said FRANZISKA. "At the beginning, it was amazing; I put every ball on the table. On the other side, Anton made a few easy mistakes. The coach warned me to calm down, to stay focused. I had to work on each ball."


Photo: C. JOST

Timo BOLL - Yuto MURAMATSU 3-1 (8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6)

Yuto MURAMATSU had a better start, but Timo BOLL kept his patience to overcome Yuto's defensive skills in the next game. In the same rhythm, alongside his patience, Timo did not lose his precision. The player with the record number of titles at the European Championships kept Borussia Düsseldorf in the game.

"I am so tired. I feel my edge. Yuto is a player with so many great variations in his defensive style. I knew it would not be easy, especially since it has been a while since I played against a defender. On the other hand, there was only one option for me – to win this match. It took some time for me to get the feeling and to get into the rhythm," said BOLL.

Photo: C. JOST

Dang QIU - Patrick FRANZISKA 3-1 (6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7)

Focused and lethally precise, FRANZISKA left QIU few options with his good service and returns. The opening game went quickly, but in the next one, Dang put greater pressure on Patrick and nullified his advantage. The nerve-wracking game went point by point in the first half of the third game, but from 5-5, QIU took control. He had a game point at 10-5, but Franziska recovered to win the next three points. At 10-8, coach Danny HEISTER called for a timeout. Upon returning to the table, QIU sealed the second game. The fourth game was closely contested; FRANZISKA had a chance and a lead at 7-5, but Qiu won the next six points in a row.

"This is unbelievable. The atmosphere is electrified. This is everything every athlete could desire – a fantastic atmosphere and a great battle until the very end. Fifth match in the final of the Champions League," said QIU.

Photo: C. JOST

Anton KALLBERG – Darko JORGIC 2-3 (8-11, 11-5, 11-8, 10-12, 3-6)

The opening game went to JORGIC, but in the next, KALLBERG was in control. The Swede maintained the pressure to win the close third game in which he had an advantage from the beginning. In the fourth game, the pressure brought out the best from both players. The advantage shifted from one side to another, before KALLBERG gained a match ball at 10-8. JORGIC saved two and converted his first into the win to tie the score 2-2, pushing the match to a decisive game. In the last game, he took an early lead and closed out the match.

"We would not have made it without the help of these fantastic supporters. I would not have made it without the great support from the team. It was a tough match. We were up 2-1 when everything turned. To win with a two-point difference at the end of the fifth game of the fifth match is amazing," said JORGIC.