The international comeback of record winner Timo Boll has pushed the flawless start of the “Operation Title Defense” by both German teams into the background at the European Table Tennis Team Championships in Malmö.
Boll was hardly challenged in the Olympic silver medalist’s 3-0 compulsory win in the first preliminary round game of Group A against second-class international challenger Finland in his first tournament match in almost a year. The women of the German Table Tennis Association also held themselves harmless with a 3-0 win against England.
On Monday (7 p.m.) Boll and Co. will meet Poland at the end of the preliminary round and could reach the round of 16 as group winners with a win. In the same constellation, the German women will face Austria in a neighborhood duel (4 p.m.).
Boll brought his team into the lead against the Finns with a befitting 3-0 win against his opponent Alex Naumi, who is ranked above 500th in the world rankings.
The remaining two points for the opening victory after the success of the veteran, who was out of action for several months in the first half of the year due to an injury to the shoulder of his left hitting arm, were also confidently taken by the team runner-up world champions Benedikt Duda and Ricardo Walther.
National coach Roßkopf not there
In Malmö, the DTTB teams have their first chance of direct Olympic qualification. However, this requires winning the title again. Otherwise, there will be further opportunities in the coming year.
In Sweden, however, Boll and his colleagues have to rely on the usual coaching from national coach Jörg Roßkopf. The former world champion is missing from the pits in Düsseldorf due to an intensive training course with national players who have recently been under increased strain.
Roßkopf’s assistant Lars Hielscher will be responsible for the first time as team coach.