PLAY-OFFS: DÜSSELDORF FIGHT THEIR WAY INTO THE FINAL



After a hard-fought 3-2 victory over 1. FC Saarbrücken TT, Borussia Düsseldorf move into the Liebherr TTBL-Finale 2018. On May 26, the German record champions face Ochsenhausen in a battle for their fifth title in row. The guests from the Saarland, however, are not far form forcing Düsseldorf into a third match.

Timo Boll

Played out his experience: Timo Boll (Photo: BeLa Sportfoto)

1. FC Saarbrücken TT was not missing much on Sunday afternoon to force Borussia Düsseldorf into a decisive third play-off semi-final. But usually the record champion from the Rhineland has Timo Boll when it matters. And so the world ranking second also mastered this difficult situation in which Saarbrücken's Patrick Franziska was close to winning the match. Out of a 6-7 deficit in the fifth game, Boll made a 10-7 lead – which he completed a little later to win the set and the match.

Thanks to two points of their number one, Düsseldorf move into the Liebherr TTBL-Finale after a 3-1 win in the first leg and a narrow 3-2 victory in the second leg and face TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen on May 26 at the Fraport Arena. The Upper Swabians prevailed on Saturday eveing in the second duel against TTC RhönSprudel Fulda-Maberzell with 3-1. "The match was on the cutting edge today," said matchwinner Boll. "Saarbrücken played very, very strong and would certainly have deserved the victory. But luckily we made the crucial points today. In a third game, it could have gone in any direction."

Just like the match this Sunday. Though at the beginning everything went according to plan for the hosts in front of 900 spectators in the ARAG CenterCourt. Without major problems Boll scored the lead against Bojan Tokic and set the course for Düsseldorf. However, Kristian Karlsson was stopped by Franziska on his way to a safe 2-0 lead. The former Borussia player saved one match point at the score of 9-10 in the fourth game and a second one in the fifth game at 11-12 and eventually scored the equalizer

Franziska close

Patrick Franziska

Streched Boll to the limit: Patrick Franziska (Photo: BeLa Sportfoto)

After the break, Tiago Apolonia took revenge against Stefan Fegerl for the defeat from the first leg and the match was completely open again. Especially since Franziska then started against Boll with 7-1 lead right away. In a spectacular match, Boll came increasingly into play and took the lead. However, Franziska did not give up easily and lost to the 37-year-old only in the final game - only four points away from a win (7-6). "At times I was in charge. But in the end, he was just a little more clever than me," Franziska said.

After all, Tokic also showed great morale. Against Karlsson, the Slovenian came back after two clear game losses and was able to equalize. But after more than four hours of play, Karlsson had the better nerves in the decisive fifth set and left Tokic no chance (11-1). "We are of course disappointed," Franziska admitted. "We gave them a big fight. But in the end, Düsseldorf deserve to be in the finals, even though today maybe a bit more was in it for us."

While Franziska quarreled, Boll - a born Hesse - already looked ahead: "We are happy to be in the final again. Frankfurt is a home match for me. This time against Ochsenhausen, who, as we have already seen in the Champions League, are a quite difficult opponent for us."

The match at a glance

Borussia Düsseldorf – 1. FC Saarbrücken TT 3-2
Timo Boll – Bojan Tokic 3-1 (11-7, 11-5, 12-14, 11-5)
Kristian Karlsson – Patrick Franziska 2-3 (11-6, 6-11, 11-8, 13-15, 12-14)
Stefan Fegerl – Tiago Apolonia 1-3 (11-13, 6-11, 11-1, 9-11)
Timo Boll – Patrick Franziska 3-2 (9-11, 11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8)
Kristian Karlsson – Bojan Tokic 3-2 (11-8, 11-6, 10-12, 9-11, 11-1)

Header photo: BeLa Sportfoto