TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen complete the German trio in the quarter-finals of the Table Tennis Champions League Men (TTCLM). In the evening, the Upper Swabians won their final group match against SPG Walter Wels in Austria despite missing their top players. Borussia Düsseldorf, too, end the group stage in Europe's top tournament with a win and secures the top spot.

Joao Geraldo

Unlucky beginn: Joao Geraldo (Photo: Schaal)

Sometimes things just hit you. Just in the last group match of the Table Tennis Champions League Men (TTCLM), in which TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen were fighting for the quarter-finals against SPG Walter Wels, the Upper Swabians ran short of players. Simon Gauzy was struggling with back problems and Yuto Muramatsu was in action for the Japanese asssociation in his home country, Hugo Calderano was not able to play either. That is why on Thursday evening in Austria, TTF sports manager Daniel Zwickl had to step in. But the Hungarian solved his task with flying colors.

Against the Serb Zsolt Petö, the 2008 Olympian did excellent, saved game balls in three of the four games and brought Ochsenhausen in the lead for the first time right after the break. Because at the beginning, Ochsenhausen suffered a setback. Joao Geraldo was very much in charge against the Belgian Robin Devos, but after leading 2-0 suddenly lost the thread and was finally completely out of sorts in the last game, where he only scored one single point.

On the other hand, Jakub Dyjas, who had been injured for a long time, could be relied on this evening, securing the win with two commanding victories over Dominique Plattner and Devos. To win the group, however, that was not enough, as in the parallel match French side La Romagne clearly prevailed 3-0 against the Czechs from Ostrava. "Compliments to the team, but above all to Daniel!", said TTF president Kristijan Pejinovic. "The main thing is that we move to the next round, even though we have only become second in the group, but we did not have that in our own hands. Now we are looking forward to the draw and to the Liebherr Pokal-Finale."

Düssldorf cheer twice

Simon Gauzy

Spectacular clash with Maze: Timo Boll (Photo: MaJo-Foto)

What was denied to Ochsenhausen, however, Borussia Düsseldorf did achieve. In a duel with Roskilde Bordtennis BTK 61, the team around Timo Boll secured the group victory, but clearly defeated the Danes only on paper. Only Kristian Karlsson, who was positioned third by coach Danny Heister, had no trouble with his opponent and clearly prevailed against Laurens Tromer in three games.

Previously, it was much closer – but above all, more spectacular. Düsseldorf's top star Boll and ex-European champion and former Borussia player Michael Maze, known for his attractive style of play, delivered a thrilling duel. Boll was even down 1-2 against a furious Maze, but was able to turn tables eventually. At the beginning, Anton Källberg had been able to prevent that Zhai Yujia did so as well. The native Chinese with a Danish passport was already without any prospects and was finally beaten by Källberg only in the extension of the fifth game. Regardless, Heister was satisfied with his protégé. "Zhai got better and better prepared for Anton's game afterwards. Nevertheless, I have at times seen him best table tennis from him at all."

Finally, not only the German guests had a reason to cheer in Denmark. Due to the simultaneous defeat of the French representative Hennebont against Dzialdowo from Poland, Roskilde moves to the round of the top eight teams as well. The draw of the quarter-finals will take place tomorrow at 1 pm in Luxembourg. As a group winner Düsseldorf will avoid allegedly strong opponents first. "Now the boys have earned a few days of Christmas vacation," said Heister. "At the end of December we meet again for training and start preparing for the cup finals on January 6, 2018."

Match overview

SPG Walther Wels – TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen 1-3
Robin Devos – Joao Geraldo 3-2 (9-11, 1-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-1)
Dominique Plattner – Jakub Dyjas 1-3 (11-9, 5-11, 5-11, 10-12)
Zsolt Petö – Daniel Zwickl 1-3 (11-13, 10-12, 11-8, 10-12)
Robin Devos – Jakub Dyjas 0-3 (5-11, 5-11, 10-12) 

Roskilde Bordtennis BTK 61 – Borussia Düsseldorf 0-3
Zhai Yujia – Anton Källberg 2-3 (5-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 12-14)
Michael Maze – Timo Boll 2-3 (11-13, 11-8, 11-5, 8-11, 8-11)
Laurens Tromer – Kristian Karlsson 0-3 (7-11, 7-11, 9-11)