"THOUGHT IT WAS A JOKE": BOLL BECOMES WORLD'S NO. 1



Being almost 37 years old, Timo Boll returns to top spot on the ITTF ranking in March. Despite all critique on the new calculation system, he is still happy, said Germany's top star in a first reaction. Boll is now the oldest number one in history, taking over from Swedish legend Jan-Ove Waldner.

Timo Boll

On top again with almost 37 years: Timo Boll (Photo: ITTF)

More than 15 year after his first enthronement in 2003, Timo Boll is back as number one of the ITTF world ranking as of March 2018. The 36-year-old, who turns 37 in nine days, takes over from national colleague Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who was in top spot the last two month for the first time in his career. Additionally, on March 1 Boll is now the oldest number one in history with 36 years, 11 month ans 21 days, succeeding Jan-Ove Waldner. The Swedich legend has held the record with 31 years, 11 month, and 28 days in October 1997. The last time Boll was number one was from January to March 2011.

"When Dima came to me a couple of days ago and told me that I was going to be number one in March, I thought it was a joke," Boll said in a first reaction. "But he is an expert in statitics like these. Now the computer has actually spit out this result and I cannot hide a certain joy." Crucial for Boll's jump to the forfront was his win at the Europe Top 16 Cup, where he beat Ovtcharov in the final. Tournament wins like that carry a lot of weight in ITTF's new ranking system, which is why neither Ovtcharov nor Chinese Fan Zhendong were able to overtake Boll. In contrast to Boll, both had been playing at the Team World Cup in London and are now ranked second (Fan) and third (Ovtcharov).

Boll critical

Beside all joy, Boll voices critique, too. "Already at the beginning of the year I expressed my opinion on the new ranking system. My opinion doesn't change just because I am in top spot now," said Düsseldorf's number one. "I still think that Ma Long, Fan Zhendong or Dimitrij Ovtcharov are the best, even if the computer says otherwise."

Behind Boll Ochsenhausen's nummer one Simon Gauzy is the second best player of the Tischtennis Bundesliga (TTBL) in the new ranking. The Frenchman overtakes Olympic champion Ma Long and is now ranked eighth. Gauzy's teammate Hugo Calderano (15.), Bremen's Omar Assar (16.) and Fulda's Ruwen Filus (19.) step up one place, too. Bremen's top player Bastian Steger even climbs from 33 to 21, Saarbrücken's Patrick Franziska from 38 to 30.

The entire world ranking can be found on the ITTF website.

The top 10 in March 2018

1 (3) Timo Boll
2 (2) Fan Zhendong CHN
3 (1) Dimitrij Ovtcharov
4 (4) Lin Gaoyuan CHN
5 (5) Xu Xin CHN
6 (7) Wong Chun Ting HKG
7 (6) Koki Niwa JPN
8 (9) Simon Gauzy FRA
9 (7) Ma Long CHN
10 (10) Kenta Matsudaira JPN

Header photo: BeLa Sportfoto