Eight days at full throttle in Dortmund
Even the first phase of the World Championships to be held from 25th March to 1st April will be tremendously important for the German team. Based on February’s world rankings list, the DTTB contingent is placed as Group B leader directly behind the top fa
Even the first phase of the World Championships to be held from 25th March to 1st April will be tremendously important for the German team. Based on February’s world rankings list, the DTTB contingent is placed as Group B leader directly behind the top favourite China (Group A). On top form, they could avoid a Semi-Final against China. As winners of preliminary groups A and B, the two leading teams on the world ranking list would be automatically separated for the subsequent Last 16 final knock-out round, one at Position 1 in the upper half and the other at Position 16 in the lower half.
Although Timo BOLL joked after the draw in Dortmund on 22 February that “I would not have wanted the difficult Chinese group,“ the record European Champion does not face the first five assignments in the tournament lightly. “We can not complain about the draw, but it is not a walkover. Now it is up to us how well we do. We saw at the European Champions how dangerous Portugal can be for us. Singapore has more good people whom we do not know yet. We must also keep an eye on Spain, the Czech Republic and Serbia. We know them very well, but no match sells itself.“
The star player, who came second at the Moscow World Championships, awaits these World Championships eagerly, after turning down an extensive competition programme in favour of targeted preparations in the run up to the event. He had to drop out of his planned “preparation tournament”, the German Championships, at the beginning of March because of a pulled tendon in the left shoulder. However, in the same weekend he gave the all-clear: “I am optimistic that I will be able to play in Dortmund, and even approach it in good form”. The No. 6 seed doesn’t believe that lack of match practice will affect his form. “I am the sort of person who can grow during a tournament. There are many matches at the World Championships. I will adapt to the level of play very quickly! At the World Championships in Moscow two years ago, I was also wobbly at the beginning. At first in the match against Spain and CANTERO, then I lost to MIZUTANI for the first time. Then I played a strong match against China in the Final and won against MA Long who, as best player that year, had not be beaten in a long time.“
Nobody in the German team speaks of winning the title despite the great example set by Doubles team Jorg ROSSKOPF / Steffen FETZNER with their sensational 1989 gold medal win. The hurdles seem too high. China has lost just four out of 15 of the World Championship Men’s tournaments in the last 31 years (1989, 1991, 1993 und 2000) – and only to the legendary Swedish team. The DTTB will try to pose an even greater challenge than they did during the tightly fought 1:3 at Moscow in 2010. The foundations seem to be there: Timo BOLL came third at the 2011 World Championships, with Dimitrij OVTCHAROV a second German made the leap into the Top Ten, and the Europe Top 12 winner was the first player since Boll to beat China’s superstar WANG Hao at the World Team Cup in Magdeburg.
OVTCHAROV: “At last I have beaten one of the top Chinese players. That was important and I hope that I will now do it more often.” This is the point on which Christian SUSS bases their minimal outside chance against the Chinese: “We have to earn points with Timo, but at least one more of our team must win as well. At the Moscow Finals I had an opportunity against ZHANG Jike. If the Chinese give up a second point and know that they have to face Timo once more, they will get nervous.”
Jorg ROSSKOPF will be spoilt for choice in the match schedule. Behind the uncontested top pairing of Boll and Ovtcharov, come three players who rank together: SUSS who was injured for almost six months in 2011. German Champion Bastian STEGER who plays at a continuously high level, and the occasionally brilliant but unstable European Championship second Patrick BAUM. ROSSKOPF comments: “You need a good bank of players for a long World Championships with many matches and we have that.” The promising young talent Patrick FRANZISKA will follow the World Championships in the background,. The 19 year old 2010 European Youth Champion is among the extended contingent as a substitute.
Admittedly, the hosts themselves number among those being hunted and cannot in any way be sure of reaching the Final. South Korea and Japan are the two rivals mentioned most often as likely to try to prevent a duel between China and Germany.
ROSSKOPF views the World Championships with the cool head of a sportsman who has encountered all the highs and lows of a World Championships before: “A bronze medal in Dortmund would be a success, but we will do our utmost to reach the Final. China remains the gold medal favourite though.“ ROSSKOPF still has an enormous number of fans who have much bigger dreams. They hope nothing less than that in Dortmund on 1 April 2012, their idol, 42 year old Coach Jorg ROSSKOPF, will complete the circle he started on 8 April 1989 when as a player he became World Champion at the age of 19.
Photo: Timo BOLL (Photo Roscher)