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Qualification Group at the ITTF Europe Cup 2017. 3-5/02 2017, Antibes (FRA)

Seeking elusive title; Timo Boll returns to Korea

(by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor)

Winner of the Cadet Boys’ Singles title at the European Youth Championships in Den Haag in 1995, a whole host of titles have come the way of Timo Boll since that date but one has always proved elusive.

He has never been crowned Men’s Singles champion at an ITTF World Tour event staged in Korea Republic. He has come close, in 2002 in Gangneung City; he was beaten in the final by Austria’s Werner Schlager.

Now starting on Thursday 20th April, the tournament being preceded by two days of qualification, for the 36 year old German another chance beckons. He is the no.3 seed in the Men’s Singles event at the forthcoming Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Korea Open.

Staged in Incheon, he is next in line in the order of merit to the host nation’s Jeoung Youngsik and Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan; Japan’s Koki Niwa, semi-finalist at the recent Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asia Championships in Wuxi, is the no.4 seed.

A chance for Timo Boll to add yet another accolade to his name and also it is a chance to increase his very impressive list of ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles titles. Currently, he stands in fifth place in the overall order of merit.

Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus leads, he has 26 such titles, next is the Chinese trio of Ma Long, Wang Liqin and Ma Lin. Impressively Ma Long has won 23 times, two ahead of the now retired Wang Liqin and three ahead of Ma Lin, now focused on coaching duties.

Timo Boll has 18 ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles titles in his locker but it is now approaching seven years since he last acceded to the top step of the podium. The most recent win was in 2010 when he emerged victorious in Japan, overcoming the host nation’s Jun Mizutani in the final.

Eyes on Timo Boll but local eyes will be very much focused on Jeoung Youngsik; he is the only player on duty in Incheon to have won the Men’s Singles title at an ITTF World Tour tournament in Korea. He emerged successful in 2015 when beating colleague Joo Saehyuk in the final.

Additionally there will be local attention focused on Lee Sangsu; he is the no.7 seed behind Portugal’s Marcos Freitas and Simon Gauzy. Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira completes the top eight names.

Likewise as play starts on Tuesday 18th April, the host nation’s Jeong Sangeun, the victor over Ma Long at the just concluded Seamaster 2017 Asian Championships and eventual runner up will be in action.

Alongside colleagues Kim Minseok and Jang Woojin, both on duty in Wuxi, Jeong Sangeun must compete in the qualification tournament.

Equally Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu will be in focus in the Men’s Doubles event; they are the no.2 seed; Japan’s Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima occupy the top seeded spot.

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