Ovtcharov: Playing in Chinese Super league was great for me

Dimitrij Ovtcharov made an interview with the German newspaper Franffurter Allgemeine Zeitung few days before the final of his participation in the Chinese table tennis Super league. Here is what the second best in Europe has said:

Franffurter Allgemeine Zeitung (F.A.Z): You are playing in the Chinese Super League. How important is this tournament for you?

Dimitrij Ovtcharov: “It’s a new experience for me. It’s the first time that I play in the Super League. It’s great that the country shows so much passion for the sport. We were in different places every two days, where most of them were full of people and you can meet the best players in the world. This is a big challenge for me, because it will help me to give the next step in the sport.”

F.A.Z: Do you have something like a favorite Chinese opponent? 

Dima: “It’s hard to say. There are so so many good players. It can’t be said that the first ten Chinese players in the World Ranking list are the strongest, because all are really strong opponents. We can count around 20 or 30 players, who have a good level.”Dimitrij-Ovtcharov

F.A.Z: How is it to play in front of Chinese spectators? 

Dima: “Different. German spectators are very quiet. They watch the match and are very calm the whole time Chinese spectators are more expressive and there is always a lot of noise. For example, when they like a rally, they scream enthusiastically or when they think that it isn’t good, they do the same as well.”

F.A.Z: Does that annoy you?

Dima: No, In fact, I like that, because you can see that people are fascinated for what you are doing in every ball. The atmosphere is like the one of a basketball match.”

F.A.Z: So do German people just lack interest in table tennis?

Dima: That couldn’t be fair. The situation is completely different. I think that the big diffence is that table tennis is a media sport. This means that every 3 days a table tennis match is broadcast by CCTV, it’s like football in a big TV channel in Germany. Less important matches can be broadcast in regional channels, so people keep informed of what happens and can follow the sport better.”

Franffurter Allgemeine Zeitung (F.A.Z): What have you seen in China so far?

Dimitrij Ovtcharov: “In fact my day is completely planned. We are in different places every two days, because the Super League is played in different places of the country. We also train a lot, so days pass fast. I don’t have so much time to visit sightseeing or know cities. But I’m not a big sightseeing fan anyway. I have been many times to China, so I have already seen the most important.”

F.A.Z: In June at the China Open, you paired up with Yan An and were beaten by Timo Boll and Ma Long in the final. How did the German-Chinese team work?

Dima: “It was a very interesting time for us. Unfortunately, Chinese players don’t speak English very well, so we rarely talk apart from “hello”, “bye” and “How are you?” At the China Open, we played together in doubles and we had to talk that time. We realized that after a while Chinese players become less shy and more open. At the end, it could be seen that it was fun and we had fun as well. I will compete in the Harmony China Open too and I will pair up with another Chinese player.”

F.A.Z: This transnational pairing is in the framework of China to help in the development of table tennis in Europe. Dou you think that China really wants to provide development assistance? 

Dima: “At least I would be interesting to see how they prepare for a match. In fact, it can be said that their preparation before a match is very similiar to ours. It would be more interesting to see how they prepare for World Championships. I think that most of their real secrets are there. But it’s a good experience to know a bit more of their playing style.”

F.A.Z: “What did your Chinese team mates learn fron you?

Dima: “They are interested in knowing how the best European players started. They also want to know how Timo and I train. At the China Open we communicated with some words, and hands and feet. They also asked us where we train, how and who with.”

F.A.Z: It is planned to allow transnational pairings in big international competitions. 

Dima: “At the Olympics, that won’t be possible, because the union of each country must be preserved. But it can be considered in World Championships, World Tour tournaments and maybe at the German Open that will be held this year. In World Championships it was prohibited 20 years ago but in these years it has been thought that this rule doesn’t have to be too strict.”

F.A.Z: How would this impact on table tennis? 

Dima: “This would be an important step for the sport and for players in general, because only Chinese players are in the World doubles finals and that isn’t very interesting. A final match with a Chinese-German pairing agaist another Chinese-German pairing or Chinese-French pairing would be very good.”

F.A.Z: What can you say about your experience in the Chinese Super League? 

Dima: “In general it was very good. The Chinese food was a bit difficult to get used to it, because it is different in every region. Some days ago we were in Sichuan that is known by its spicy food. Then we were in another place, where all food is cooked with chillies. Besides, it was very hot there and humidity levels are extreme. I got a cold there. But on the other hand, people are very nice and I had a lot of fun during matches in the extraordinary sport halls. Besides, there weren’t only new food and weather every two or three days, but also new sport challenges.”

F.A.Z: What is there next for you after the Super League?

Dima: “I will back to Germany on 1st August. Ten days later I will be back in China for the Harmony China Open. Then I will rest some days and I will be preparing for the European Championships during September.”

The interview has been translated by tabletennista.com here and here