Dima’s show of force

He arrived as title holder and left as title winner again. At the Europe Top 16 in the Portuguese Gondomar DONIC star Dimitrij Ovtcharov impressively underlined that he is in a class of his own. In the final he clearly won over the local hero Joao Monteiro with 4:2 (6,5,8,-8,-11,7) and thus had revenge against the only defeat he had during the whole tournament. In the group Monteiro had surprisingly won over Ovtcharov with 3:2.

But one after the other. In the qualification group DONIC star Dima had a brilliant start: He impressively dominated over the strong young French player Simon Gauzy with 3:0 (8,4,12) and afterwards he impressively demonstrated Panagiotis Gionis how to play against defensive players. The Greek defender could not keep up against the powerful topspin balls of the European Champion; in the end it was 3:0 (6,4,7) for Ovtcharov.

In the last game of the group, however, he made some slight mistakes and Monteiro who was supported by the spectators surprisingly won with 3:2 (7,8,-9,-9,9). What made the difference in the end, so that Ovtcharov was superior over the same opponent in the final?

“You cannot compare a group match with a final”, explained Dima. “However, I have to say that Joao surprised me. He played at very high level and extremely aggressive.”

Finally, this even helped Ovtcharov. “I was, of course, warned”, he explained, “I analyzed our group match in detail and thus was able to prepare for the final. And I think: That was my best match at this tournament.

In fact: The 4:0 (6,7,9,2) against Monteiro’s compatriot Tiago Apolonia was brilliant, but when it was 4:3 (-12, 9, 5, -9, -2, 8,8) against the Swede Kristian Karlsson it was going to get difficult for the favorite who was behind with 2:3 in sets and 3:6 in the sixth round.

But then the final: During three sets, DONIC star Dima was very superior so that Monteiro didn’t even have a slight chance.

Ovtcharov played very confidently. In the fourth round, however, the Portuguese could win some rallies and shortened the game to 1:3. “In the fifth set I had some match ball which I couldn’t take advantage of”, explained Ovtcharov. Other players would get nervous in such a situation, but not DONIC star Dima. However, he didn’t get nervous. “I’ve always believed in myself”, the opponent said – and that could also be seen in the game.

“During the last three years, this is the fifth of six possible titles at the most important tournaments in Europe”, announced Ovtcharov proudly. Consequently, he would be very confident at such tournaments.

Winner of the European Games in Baku 2015, European Champion 2013 and 2015, Europe Top 16 winner 2015 and 2016 – Dimitrij Ovtcharov is impressively superior on the old continent. Thus the usually very self-critical 27-year old left this tournament totally satisfied this time. In view of his balance, he explained: I think the results speak for themselves. At all three days I played very well here in Portugal and won a top-class final. “