Successful German duo likes the role of “underdog”

Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Patrick Franziska don’t want to settle for bronze at the World Championships, the table tennis doubles hope for more in Durban.

“Up until now, almost everyone has been the favorite against us. We feel quite comfortable with being a bit unorthodox and the underdogs,” said Franziska before the semifinals on Friday (from 2:40 p.m.) against runners-up Woojin Jang/Jonghoon Lim (South Korea).

Ovtcharov, two-time Olympic bronze medalist in singles, and Franziska form an unlikely successful duo in South Africa. After the cancellation of the old master Timo Boll, national coach Jörg Roßkopf put the two together at short notice with a view to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

“The two Koreans have been playing together for many years and are always very aggressive and strong in doubles. But we both get better from double to double,” said Franziska.

Ovtcharov disappointed with his individual performance

In the quarter-finals on Thursday, the German doubles had beaten the Englishmen Paul Drinkhall/Liam Pitchford 3-1, in the previous round they had beaten the Japanese Shunsuke Togami/Yukiya Uda.

For Ovtcharov (34) the double success and his first medal at an individual world championship is a satisfaction after the disappointment in singles.

“The defeat hurt a lot. I had big plans and had high expectations of myself,” said Ovtcharov about losing to Croatian Tomislav Pucar in the third round. After that, he didn’t fall asleep until the morning hours. “So I was a bit tired in the morning and took a cold shower first,” said Ovtcharov. He should be more rested before the semifinals.