Status: 06.01.2023 8:25 a.m

    The final tournament of the German Table Tennis Cup is coming up. With the exception of the Chinese, almost the entire world elite is at the start in Neu-Ulm.

    The fact that a table tennis event is declared national and that record European champion Timo Boll is not necessarily mentioned as the first name normally seems a bit remarkable. But it will be like this at the Final Four of the German Table Tennis Cup on Sunday (January 8th, 2023): With the exception of the Chinese, the entire world elite will play there.

    Düsseldorf’s President Preuss: “Best occupied field of all time”

    There is the world number 15. Boll, one of the outstanding players in the sport for decades, almost an “outsider”. Of course, it’s a team competition and you should always reckon with the current German champions, Borussia Düsseldorf. After all, the club from the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia is also the record cup winner with 27 titles.

    His superior in Düsseldorf, President Andreas Preuss, speaks of “best-attended cup final of all time”. This is also due to Borussia, who will compete with Boll, the world ranking tenth and current European champion Dang Qiu and the best league player of the past two seasons, Anton Källberg.

    Defending champion Saarbrücken against Dusseldorf

    But it is even more important that the best players outside of China can currently be found in the German league. Because 1. FC Saarbrücken and the financially strong TTC Neu-Ulm also offer a world-class team. Saarbrücken is the defending champion and has to compete with Düsseldorf in the semifinals at 11 a.m.

    Then the two clubs that have dominated German table tennis for years will meet. And the squad of Saarland is hardly inferior to that of Düsseldorf. With Slovenian Darko Jorgic and national player Patrick Franziska, 1. FC still has number nine and 13 in the world rankings – that’s a bit better than Düsseldorf at the top.

    Neu-Ulm with the best team

    But the real top favorite for the title is clearly TTC Neu-Ulm. The relatively new and financially strong club has a home game – the Final Four takes place in their own hall. “Everyone else has been there before, so it’s more likely that everyone else will have a home game”, said Neu-Ulm’s chairman and investor Florian Ebner. Nevertheless, the Neu-Ulmer know the hall through the league.

    With Tomokazu Harimoto, Truls Moregard, Lin Yun-Ju and Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the numbers four, five, eight and eleven of the global rankings are also at the table for the TTC Neu-Ulm – a non-Chinese world selection, so to speak. On paper, it is the best team in Europe – maybe even in the world. Even before the season, Germany’s national coach Jörg Roßkopf told the sports show: “You’re automatically a favorite with this line-up.”

    Outsider Ochsenhausen wants to surprise

    Due to the physical proximity, the majority of the audience is more likely to be on the side of the Ebner club from the south. If it weren’t for the other local hero: TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen is also from nearby. It is 45 kilometers to the hall in Neu-Ulm for the club. Nevertheless, the club appears to be an outsider behind the big three, but is only just behind Saarbrücken in third place in the Bundesliga.

    Top players are USA’s Kanak Jha, currently ranked 22nd in the world, and France’s number two, Simon Gauzy. However, both have proven often enough that they have enough potential to beat the very best.

    Table tennis festival for the fans

    Record European champion Boll emphasized to the specialist portal “mytischtennis.de”: “The exit is more open than ever.” In any case, we already know one winner of this outstanding tournament, far removed from sporting success or failure: the fans.

    You only see a level like the Final Four at world championships or the Olympic Games. The hall is already sold out with 5,000 spectators. This also means a new attendance record, which was only set last year with 4,600 fans.

    If you are not there live, you can watch a summary in the evening in the sports show on Sunday. Whether in front of the TV or live in the hall, according to Ochsenhausen’s President Kristijan Pejinovic, one thing is certain: “The audience can look forward to something unique.”

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