Only one week after winning the Champions League, Borussia Düsseldorf is challenged again in the final for the German team championship. In the Liebherr TTBL-Finale on May 26, TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen aim for their first title since 2004 – and have two trumps in their hand against top star Timo Boll.
It came, as Jörg Roßkopf had suspected. Before the second Champions League final last Friday, the men's national coach had conceded Borussia Düsseldorf "very good chances" to win the title and had already speculated a but with regard to the Liebherr TTBL-Finale 2018. "Perhaps it will be the task of TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen on May 26, to defeat the Champions League winner," said Roßkopf. Since the early Friday evening it is now clear: In the final for the German team championship, the South Germans are challenging not only the defending champion, but also the best team in Europe.
This circumstance, however, offers no reason for Ochsenhausen to freeze in awe as the team of coach Dubravko Skoric had almost fought for the crown of European table tennis themselves. After a 3-2 win at home in the Champions League semi-final, Ochsenhausen was defeated after the opposite result in Düsseldorf only due to the worse points ratio in total.
Pejinovic: "We want to enjoy"
Therefore, TTF president Kristijan Pejinovic is confident: "We have shown that we can compete with Düsseldorf and like to do so." For him, reaching the final is a success by itself. "After the difficult start into the season, only few expected us to be in the final now. We want to enjoy it and see what will emerge." In the best case, the first title since 2004, when Chuang Chih-Yuan and Adrian Crisan led the TTF team to the last of three German championships in the club's history so far in a final against TTC Zugbrücke Grenzau.
The trophy collection of Düsseldorf is significantly larger. With another success on May 26, the definding champion would equal its own record of five championship titles in a row. Overall, Düsseldorf would even make it 30 championships, nine times with Timo Boll so far. And of course this Saturday, everything revolves around Germany's most successful table tennis player again, whose individual victories are often accompanied by a success of his team. For Düsseldorf's manager Andreas Preuß, the danger is lurking just there: "We don't like to play against Ochsenhausen very much. Mostly because Hugo Calderano and Simon Gauzy have a good record against Timo Boll and Gauzy even a positive one. After the duel in the Champions League, we are warned to the utmost."
Boll has respect
Boll himself has Calderano and Gauzy firmly in mind, too, and recently explained what makes them so strong: good serves, a lot of imagination in the receives and lots of quality in the open rallies. Boll doesn't like to speak of bogey opponents though: "I have already beaten both of them lately and I think it will be an open match." Jörg Roßkopf, who expects a duel at eye level, believes so too and pronounces what Ochsenhausen has long realized: "If Timo gets beaten, there's a big chance for Ochsenhausen to win the match in the end."
Header photo: Reinhard Arras