On Friday evening, Borussia Düsseldorf host TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen in the second leg semi-final in the Table Tennis Champions League Men (TTCLM) – and are condemned to win after losing by a narrow margin three weeks ago. The young guest team however is on the verge of the first final since 2009.
By a whisker, everything would have already been settled in the first leg. On March 16, TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen almost beat Borussia Düsseldorf in straight matches in front of their home crowd. But the team of topstar Timo Boll managed to get into the fifth singles and only lost 2-3 in the end. On Friday evening, Düsseldorf now host the second leg semi-final in the ARAG CenterCourt and try to turn the tables to enter the final of the Table Tennis Champions League Men (TTCLM) for the second time in a row.
Preuß: "Chances are at 30 percent"
"After the first leg, Ochsenhausen is the favourite of course, our chances to proceed are at 30 percent, I think," says Borussia manager Andreas Preuß, but knows: "On the other hand, we did turn around some other matches before." For example in the quarter-final of the 2014/15 season, when Boll and Co. equalized a 1-3 loss against Pontoise-Cergy (France) and proceeded to the semi-final thanks to a better balance in games (17:16). Considering the negative balance against Ochsenhausen (10:13), a 3-1 win is most certainly needed again on Friday.
Düsseldorfs opponent Ochsenhausen tries to be relaxed facing the difficult task. "We are just happy that we can play two semi-finals with all the injured and sick players in the last weeks," says TTF sports manager Daniel Zwickl. "Pressure is on the others, we are just looking forward." It was mostly Simon Gauzy who was injured in the last weeks, sidelined by a back injury for a long time. But at least since matchday 18 in the Tischtennis Bundesliga (TTBL), when Gauzy secured Ochsenhausen's third place in the table with two wins against Bergneustadt, the world's number 10 is almost back on track again.
Focus on matches against Boll
Against Boll, Gauzy's record is extraordinary anyway, in the first leg he beat him again. At the Qatar Open in March, Düsseldorf's number one lost to Hugo Calderano as well. "With Gauzy and Calderano, Ochsenhausen has to players that I am not very eager to play," the 37-year-old admits. "Even in good shape I have to strech against them to win. I hope I can win two matches on Friday and we proceed to the final."
Just as last year, when Düsseldorf entered the final after two wins against Pontoise-Cergy and lost to Dimitrij Ovtcharov's TTC Fakel Gazprom. This year too, the Russians are the top favourite for the title and are almost through to the final after a clear 3-0 win against Sporting Clube de Portugal in the first leg. The Portuguese are a guest of Fakel Gazprom on Friday at 2 pm German time.
The semi-finals at a glance
Friday, April 6, 2 pm
TTC Fakel Gazprom – Sporting Clube de Portugal (First leg: 3:0)
Friday, April 6, 7 pm
Borussia Düsseldorf – TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen (First leg: 2:3)
Header photo: BeLa Sportfoto