Ready for Berlin: OVTCHAROV at glance

Four weeks after the European Championships in Austria, Berlin will host the German Open. The World Tour tournament has, so far, taken place twice in the German capital, in 2008 and 2010. Overall, the former “International Championships of Germany&#

Four weeks after the European Championships in Austria, Berlin will host the German Open. The World Tour tournament has, so far, taken place twice in the German capital, in 2008 and 2010. Overall, the former “International Championships of Germany” were held even twelve times in Berlin, the first time in the season 1924/1925. For this year 408 players from 49 nations signed in, more than ever before at German Open. Over 10,000 visitors are expected on the tournament five days in the Max-Schmeling-Halle, the venue which is named after a well-know German boxing champion.

At the press conference at the hall the new European Champion Dimitrij OVTCHAROV and Sally Julian ROTHHOLZ, the venue’s CEO, Velomax Hallenbetriebs Berlin GmbH, answered the questions of journalists. Among other reporters from BILD-Zeitung, Tagesspiegel, Berliner Zeitung and sports news agency SID attended. After the appointment “Dima” OVTCHAROV met with friends in Berlin – including former German national men’s coach Richard PRAUSE – before he travelled with his fiancée Jenny MELLSTRÖM to her parents in Stockholm. OVTCHAROV might use the stop in Sweden to brush up his language skills Swedish a bit. So far, he speaks German, English and Russian, and through Russian can understand related languages like Croatian or Polish. But the Scandinavian language is still his weak point.

“My Swedish is still bad, I can just speak a few words and small phrases. But the pressure that is put on me from home is increasing. Jenny’s mother is a teacher and even owns a private school. Therefore she is a little sad about slow progress. I told her last year that I would wait until the end of the Olympic Games. Then the Olympics were finished, and then there came the World Championships this year, then the European Championships… But I must definitely improve until our wedding next year,” OVTCHAROV promised.

After the European Championships Dimitrij OVTCHAROV is currently having a small table tennis break, but already on Saturday he will be back for serious practicing for the World Cup in Belgium. “After the EC a lot of pressure fell off me. In Schwechat it felt as if I was runnning on adrenalin all the time.On Tuesday, I tried to do some training but my legs felt like jelly. I acknowledged with a smile, that you need a bit of time after such a tournament. After two days in Sweden, I will complete focus on the World Cup,” says the 25-year-old who wants to defend his title in Berlin.

In addition to his opponent in the final in Bremen 2012, Timo BOLL, the Olympic and World Champion ZHANG Jike and XU Xin, number 2 of the current World Ranking from China, will be OVTCHAROV’S main competitors next to to CHUANG Chih-Yuan from German Bundesleague club Champion Werder Bremen, the reigning World Doubles Champion.

Dimitrij OVTCHAROV talked more about the 2013 German Open in Berlin: “The title is a big goal of mine. In 2012 in Bremen, was a huge success for me to win the final against Timo. It was a fantastic experience, also because it was in Germany. I’m so happy that this time it will be in Berlin. It’s a great city, I have got many friends here”.

OVTCHAROV about his Berlin Tournament Memories and its objectives in Berlin. “In March last year at the German National Closed Championship I suffered from a defeat in the final against ‘Basti’ (explanation: Bastian STEGER). Anyway, I currently have a lot of confidence, I’m optimistic about the tournament. I am pleased that ZHANG Jike and XU Xin have entered. I think I approached a bit closer to the Chinese and remain confident that I can beat them in a big tournament some time”.

OVTCHAROV on forgetting the European Championships’ trophy on the shuttle bus in Austria “Remember the football club Real Madrid two years ago. They dropped the Spanish Cup from the roof of the bus and the vehicle rolled over it. Compared to this what happened to my trophy was rather harmless. I knew that the cup could only be on the shuttle bus, I called the organizing committee and they brought it to our hotel half an hour later.

The meticulous table tennis worker OVTCHAROV about meticulousness in his private life. “You have to ask my fiancée. When I stand at the table, I always want to have the feeling of having done everything possible to show the best performance. If I lose, I have nothing to reproach myself of. Privately, I’m not nearly as meticulous. I like to cook at home once in a while, but things like clearing up and cleaning afterwards is not my forte. But we are definitely working on this”. (He said with a smile.)

OVTCHAROV about his successes so far in teams’ and singles’ events: “By 2008, I had already won European Championships and a silver medal at the Olympics with the team. It was important for me winning the Europe Top 12 in 2012. This was followed by the bronze medal also in singles at the Olympics, then I won the German Open in Bremen and now the European Championships. All this came as exclamation points. It makes me proud, because there are very good players on the circuit who could – according to their capacities – win far more singles’ titles than they did. Anyway, there are plenty of tournaments ahead of me, and the colors of the medals I have won so far can still be improved. I am still very ambitious. Not to forget: With my Russian club Orenburg I won the Champions League twice and once was the most and once the second most valuable player of the league”.

OVTCHAROV on his time in the Chinese Super League this summer: “I was surprised that the Chinese don’t really have any big secrets. They have simply been working very conscientious and assiduously for many years now and they are slightly ahead of us as far as speed, rotation, hardness, and precision are concerned. Next to that they have an incredible lot of good players. Everyone wants to proceed to the national team and the Olympics. Their internal competition benefits the quality of the whole team. Therefore, Timo and I also go to China. The more you train with them and play them, the more we can adapt”.

OVTCHAROV about battling the Chinese: “I’ve already beaten ZHANG Jike, XU Xin and WANG Hao sometimes, but never MA Long. I hope that I at some point not only win at the Chinese Super League or some World Tour event, but at Olympics or World Championships. In London 2012, we were really close. Timo won against Zhang Jike, I had 1-1 and 9-7 against Ma Long. The final score was 1-3 again. I hope and believe that we eventually manage a victory over them”.

Sally Julian ROTHHOLZ, CEO of Velomax Hallenbetriebs Berlin GmbH, the operating company of the venue. “We are very pleased to host the German Open for the third time after 2010 and 2008. Table tennis is an interesting feature in our portfolio of different sports. We are particularly happy about the record number of more than 400 players and hope to welcome more than 10,000 visitors during the tournament”.

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hermes scarf Simone HINZ, courtesy DTTB

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