Ovtcharov: I want to reach the podium!
There are only a few days left before the beginning of the World Cup which takes place in the Saarlandhalle in Saarbrücken, Germany from 1st to 3rd October. Only a bit more than 6 weeks after the Olympics and two weeks before the start of the European Championships, the World Cup takes place at a time where a lot of stars are rather longing for a break. Just like the Olympic Winner Ma Long and the Japanese Jun Mizutani, the winner of the bronze medal in Rio: Both cancelled their start at the World Cup. The insatiable Dimitrij Ovtcharov, however, is very keen to continue the success story which he started to write in 2013 and 2015 with third places each at this traditional tournament.
It is curious but the task won’t be much easier for DONIC star Dima after Mizutani has cancelled. As the replacement for the Japanese seems to be even stronger. Fan Zhendong, number two in the world, who emphasized his claim to take over the power very soon when winning in the final of the China Open against Ma Long with 4:0 some days ago. Furthermore, with the third of the world ranking, Xu Xin, another Chinese super star starts so that for Ovtcharov any step to the podium this time would be a success. Finally there will also be plays about position three.
Before the event in Saarbrücken, Germany, where the German traditional brand DONIC is among other things the table and net supplier, we asked the European Champion for an interview.
In the recent years the World Cup was a good tournament for you. What’s your aim this time? After 2013 and 2015, do you want to reach the podium this time again?
That’s true I’ve already had good results at the World Cup. In 2013 third place, there I was leading 3:2 in the semi-final and in the sixth set 6:4 against Xu Xin. At that time, I really had the chance to win. In the final, I would have played against Vladi who I had won against 4:0 in the EC final two weeks before.
2015 was also a brilliant tournament, with the bronze medal after winning over Jun Mizutani in the match for the third place. But I don’t worry about this tournament now, whatever will be, will be. I’ll enjoy playing and do my best. However, my aim is to reach the podium, of course!
After the Olympics a lot of athletes fall into a hole – especially, if they were successful there. How about you?
Can you keep the tension, above all as your daughter was born and thus other things in your live got into your focus at the moment?
Of course, the main focus is on the Olympics and therefore other absolute top tournaments like the World Cup and the EC fall a bit behind. I can tell from myself, as I made this experience as ell the years before. Afterwards you regret it! And if afterwards no bigger tournaments are to come – I mean continental tournaments – then you get angry about it. Therefore, I try to keep the tension as high as possible and do my best, at the World Cup and the EC, which will be two weeks later. Those are the biggest tournaments after the Olympics and the WTTC which we have in our sport. The have deserved it that the athletes do their best and go to the limit. I think everybody will do it like this, unless they fall into a hole.
How was your training program since Rio? Presumably you had a short break? What about your shape?
I had a break for ten days. Afterwards I slowly started to practice again: about only once a day for another 10 days. And meanwhile I have a 2:1-2:1 program. I would like to have a fresh start into the tournaments. For the next two and a half months there will be a huge tournament period now in October, November and December: World Cup, EC, World Tour Grand Finals, Swedish Open, Champions League, Russian League and so on. I did a lot of practicing in summer. The feeling is good and if the fitness and the body are okay, too, what I assume, then I look optimistic into this period.
Due to the cancellation of Mizutani, Fan Zhendong came nearer. Now there will be two Chinese and not only Xu Xin. That makes it more difficult – doesn’t it? And what do you think about Fan Zendong at the moment?
Maybe it’s now a bit more difficult to get higher on the podium due to the cancellation of Jun - because the Chinese have a higher level. But in the end I don’t care. I try to concentrate on myself. When I play good table tennis, then I can reach the podium.
I always think Fan Zhendong is very strong. He is number two in the world and clearly plays the best results after Ma Long. If Ma Long wouldn’t exist, he clearly would be the number one. Recently when winning the China Open, you could notice that he’s very ambitious.