Dimitrij Ovtcharov smashed a forehand into the net at match point and Timo Boll threw his hands into the air as he defeated Ovtcharov 4-1 (9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8) to win his record-setting eighth European Championships. Vladimir Samsonov and Gábor Gergely are tied for second-to-most men’s singles European championships, with three titles each.
It’s a well-deserved title for 40-year-old Boll as he beat every European player ranked top-10 in the world (other than himself) en route to his title. In addition to beating Ovtcharov in the finals, Boll also beat Mattias Falck 4-2 earlier in the day in the semi-finals.
After the match, Boll said, “The last few days were really tough, but I treated myself really hard, and in the end I played fantastic table tennis, and I’m happy. What should I say? I didn’t expect it…I wasn’t sure if I could handle three, four days of such a championship. Physically, I’m tired now, but I could manage it, and therefore I am really happy.”
Cognizant of his age, Boll further added, “The first [championship] is always special, but this can be my last, so it was also emotional, and I had a tough last year. I was close to stopping maybe my career. Exactly one year ago, I was close to down at the bottom, and I’m back again, so I feel really glad.”
The full match can be watched on the ETTU TV webpage.
Boll got off to a slow start as he missed two serve returns to go down 2-0. Boll was able to get two lucky balls early on to keep himself in the game, but solid play from Ovtcharov allowed him to extend his lead to 8-5. Ovtcharov whiffed a forehand loop, and then Boll further narrowed the lead to 8-7 with a pretty point in which he spun the ball from below table height that Ovtcharov was unable to block. After the players exchanged two missed loops each, Ovtcharov held game point at 10-9, which he promptly converted with two strong backhand loops.
Boll again got off to a slow start in game 2 as he missed several openings to go down into a 5-2 hole. However, Boll appeared to find his rhythm as his steady spinny loops and wide rallies combined with Ovtcharov’s problems executing his short flick well allowed Boll to reel off eight straight points and cruise to a 11-6 victory.
Ovtcharov opened the third game with two lucky points to go up 2-0 and scored several more points by pinning Boll down with several wide counters. However, despite another net ball for Ovtcharov at 7-7 to give him the 3-0 edge in lucky balls over the course of the game, Boll was able to stick to the game plan of steady spinny loops and wide rallies and pressuring Ovtcharov to self-destruct on the short flick and frustrate himself as Boll eked out an 11-9 victory.
Ovtcharov finally switched to his iconic backhand serve to start the fourth game, but he switched back to the forehand serve after he split his two backhand serves. After Ovtcharov gave a weak push and missed two flicks to lose three straight points and go down 5-4, Ovtcharov called time-out. However, after the time-out, Ovtcharov’s short-game woes continued as he popped up another push and missed another two flicks as Boll extended the lead to 10-8.
Ovtcharov got ready to serve his super simple straight serve, but received a service warning regarding the height of the toss. Ovtcharov switched back to his standard pendulum serve and then lost the game 11-8 on another missed short flick.
Ovtcharov opened the fifth game quite sloppily to lose six straight points, including a missed serve and go down 6-1. However, Ovtcharov was able to claw his way back to 7-7 after winning all four of his service points off his signature backhand serve. However, Boll was able to win the next two points on his own serve to go up 9-7 and win a pretty counter-loop rally to break Ovtcharov’s serve and go up 10-7. Ovtcharov was able to save one match point with a tricky long fast backhand serve to Boll’s forehand. However, Ovtcharov smacked the ball into the net on the next point, delivering Boll the game, match, and his record-shattering eighth title.
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