Right at the beginning of the new season in the Tischtennis Bundesliga (TTBL), the decision is made in the reintroduced doubles. There, the Swedish combination of Kristian Karlsson and Anton Källberg turns out to be the more experienced duo and secures Borussia Düsseldorf the tight 3-2 win over TTC RhönSprudel Fulda-Maberzell.

Timo Boll

Successful start: Timo Boll (Photo: BeLa Sportfoto)

Missed opportunities, tight decisions and the premiere of the reintroduced double: The opening match of the new season in the Tischtennis Bundesliga (TTBL) had a lot to offer. In the end the last winner of the past season was also the first of the current. Kicking off the first matchday on Friday evening, the German record and defending champion Borussia Düsseldorf beat TTC RhönSprudel Fulda-Maberzell 3-2. "We certainly had some luck today, but of course we are happy to have won the first game. It's always important for the team and for our self-confidence," Timo Boll said.

However, in front of 1,100 spectators in the sold-out ARAG CenterCourt, the match began with a false start by new signing Omar Assar. At his debut in the jersey of the record champion, Borussia coach Danny Heister had brought the Egyptian on position one, but in the duel with Ruwen Filus Assar had to give in after five games. The 27-year-old was well on his way to a 2-1 lead before his nervousness struck him and he gave away an 8-3 lead. Although Assar won the fourth round, the decisive fifth went to Fulda's defender.

Soon after, Timo Boll had much less effort, leaving Wang Xi no chance and equalizing to 1-1 after a tight first set. Kristian Karlsson did not have any problems either against Fuldas debutant Tomislav Pucar and brought Düsseldorf in the lead against the Croatian Under 21 European champion of 2017 after the break.

But Assar but could make use of the assist of his new teammate. The multiple African champion missed several good opportunities against Wang Xi and was defeated by Fulda's native Chinese despite leading 2-1 and 4-1 the final game. "We had our chances today, because Timo did not play in the fist spot," Filus said. "The fact that we were able to win both matched against Assar has given us a boost."

Not enough though. Because in the doubles, Heister had picked his two Swedes Kristian Karlsson and Anton Källberg – and made the right decision. Karlsson and Källberg took a quick 2-0 lead against Filus/Pucar, before the Fulda team made it exciting again. In the fourth game, Filus/Pucar did not let themselves get worked up by a 2-7 false start and could later save two match balls, equalizing to 10-10. In the extension of the last game, however, the two Swedes proved superior. "It was a very long and hard match," Källberg said afterwards. "We have convinced as a team today and are happy about the victory." Filus, however, quarreled: "We startet bad in the doubles. Attack-defense combinations just take a little longer to get going. This will certainly get better in the next matches. All in all, it was better than expected today, and still annoying at the end."

The match at a glance

Borussia Düsseldorf – TTC RhönSprudel Fulda-Maberzell 3-2
Omar Assar – Ruwen Filus 2-3 (8-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-9, 8-11)
Timo Boll – Wang Xi 3-0 (11-9, 11-7, 11-5)
Kristian Karlsson – Tomislav Pucar 3-1 (11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7)
Omar Assar – Wang Xi 2-3 (11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 7-11, 4-11)
Kristian Karlsson/Anton Källberg – Ruwen Filus/Tomislav Pucar 3-1 (11-7, 11-6, 7-11, 13-11)

Header photo: BeLa Sportfoto