Thus, you gain self-confidence!

Dimitrij Ovtcharov has made it: With a 4:2 success in the final over Alexander Shibaev (Russia) the DONIC star won the Europe Top 16 – the third time in a row. The traditional Europe Top 12 has been hold 42 times from 1971 to 2012 and no other player has ever won it three times in a row. Ovtcharov won the last Top 12 in 2012 and now made the hat-trick at the follow-up event Europe Top 16.

“Very challenging” had that tournament been for him, especially as he wasn’t in top form at this event and until the end he had to fight with a hard cough. As number 6 of the world-ranking list, DONIC star Dima had started as the favorite, although the victory wasn’t naturally for him. “It seems that it’s possible to win against anybody there”, he explained. In theory that’s true, but in reality, it is different: Nearly nobody wins against a Dimitrij Ovtcharov. When pointing that out, the 28-year old replied grinning: “I’m just tough.”

He impressively proved that in Antibes. In the group matches he had to fight hard to win against Joao Monteiro (3:1), Simon Gauzy (3:2, after 0:2 behind) und Jonathan Groth (3:2). Afterwards there were gala performances against Stefan Fegerl (4:0) in the quarter final and Kou Lei (4:3) in the semi-final before there was the highly competitive match against Alexander Shibaev in the final. With his performance, Ovtcharov was also satisfied in the final, but not with his yield. “I’ve played very well, but actually I should have won 6:0”, he explained in view of the chances he had given away in the lost sets. Also in the sixth round, he attracted attention: After leading 10:3 Ovtcharov lost 5 points in series and with 8:10 Shibaev served again. “But the favorite kept a clear head. “He calmed down again”, said the sports director of the German Table Tennis Association, Richard Prause and added: “Dima is the number one in Europe, and made an exclamation mark here.”

After the Olympic Games, his best player needed a bit of time. We have to allow him this time”, says Prause. DONIC star Dima confirmed: “I’ve won six tournaments in a row in Europe and then looked for new goals.” Among them were thoughts how to organize his game. “I’ve tried to change my game for a long time and worked on my weaknesses”, explained Ovtcharov. For him, who takes over the table as many balls as possible with his backhand, this means to integrate a forehand flip in his game. However, these aren’t his own expectations anymore. Meanwhile, he has realized, he said: “I’m quite good just like I am. If I don’t make a lot of small mistakes and do my top spin game from both sides, it’s difficult to win against me.” That’s the motto he followed in Antibes and that’s his strategy for the future. “I want to concentrate on what I know best – and present that to the opponent.”

How that looks like when it works could be seen at Europe’s top 16. In an impressive manner, Europe’s number one dominated the continental competitors.

After winning the tournament they asked him what would be his most important aim in view of the individual World Championships which takes place in Düsseldorf. His answer:” Mental strength is the most important. Mental stability is my first aim.”

Considering his victory at the Europe Top 16, Dima Ovtcharov has already made an important step.

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