Last week the brave knight Patrick Franziska defeated a dragon. In fact, the worst of all dragons! The Chinese Ma Long, 34, combat name Dragon, is considered by many in the table tennis industry to be the “Greatest of All Time” – the world’s best player ever. The best German Dimitrij Ovtcharov has not defeated the two-time Olympic champion and three-time world champion Ma Long in 16 matches so far, and Franziska had not even won a single set against Ma Long in two previous matches. But then, in the round of 16 of a tournament in Budapest, Franziska beat Ma Long in five sets. A sensation. “After that I was shaking all over,” said the 30-year-old.
The new world ranking list was published on Tuesday. Franziska has moved up to eleventh place, he is now the second best German behind Ovtcharov (9th place) and together with Dang Qiu (13th place) and Timo Boll (14th place) one of four Germans among the top 15 players in the world. Never before have so many German table tennis players been so good in the world rankings. In two and a half weeks the Individual European Championships will start in Munich. Ovtcharov, Franziska, Qiu and Boll could all fight for medals there. However, considerable resistance is to be expected from at least the Swedes Truls Möregardh, Anton Källberg and Kristian Karlsson as well as the Slovenian Darko Jorgic.
Timo Boll is still considered a candidate for the 2024 Olympics in Paris
There is increasing movement in the table tennis world rankings. This is what the world association ITTF wanted. Currently, all results older than 18 months are deleted. In the future, only the best eight results from twelve months should be included in the evaluation. Gone are the days when Ma Long was world number one for 64 straight months. The acceleration in the calculation also ensures that Germany’s “Greatest of All Time”, Timo Boll, is currently only the fourth best German player. He recently had to struggle with this and that ailment, but nobody in the association is talking about the end of his career. Boll is still considered a candidate for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
“We are happy that we are the one generation still have and the next beautiful“, says sports director Richard Prause, he doesn’t see a generation change in this and interprets it as a strategy with a wink: “We have divided our four best players well over the generations.” Boll is 41 years old, Ovtcharov 33, Franziska 30 and Dang Qiu 25. This gives prospects at least up to the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Even better, almost brilliant, are the ambitions from August 13th to 21st, when the European Championships in the disciplines singles, doubles and mixed will be held in Munich’s Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle. from one gmahden Wiesn, the mowed meadow as an image of the completely harvested crop with all the medals, the head of sports Prause doesn’t want to know anything. “The world rankings are a good guide,” he says, “but you don’t win any medals with them.” Prause even explicitly takes the world rankings as a brake on euphoria, because: The best European at the moment is Swede Truls Möregardh in fifth place, the second best European in eighth place is Darko Jorgic from Slovenia. But Prause finds: “All of our four players are capable of winning medals and titles.”
The Bundesliga should also benefit from the European high
The bright green German table tennis cloverleaf is not only a blessing for the European Championships at home, but also for the new Bundesliga season, which begins at the end of August. All four are active here: Boll and Qiu for Borussia Düsseldorf, Ovtcharov for TTC Neu-Ulm and Franziska for 1. FC Saarbrücken. Even Christian Seifert, the former managing director of the Bundesliga, is happy about that. From 2023, the table tennis Bundesliga will be part of his new streaming service “S Nation Media” alongside handball, basketball and volleyball. There they look forward to athletes who can defeat dragons.
This year has been a successful one for Patrick Franziska so far. In January he won his first tournament in the World Table Tennis series, at the Grand Smash in Singapore he defeated the Chinese Xu Xin, now he has beaten Ma Long and is in the world rankings ahead of his former idol Timo Boll for the first time. Seen in this way, this could be the beginning of a generational change.