Final victory against the long-time rivals: Düsseldorf wins the Liebherr Cup Final Four


Final victory against the long-time rivals: Düsseldorf wins the Liebherr Cup Final Four

Final victory against the long-time rivals: Düsseldorf wins the Liebherr Cup Final Four

Top sport in front of a dream backdrop: Borussia Düsseldorf won the German Table Tennis Cup for the 28th time on Sunday. In the Liebherr Cup Final Four, Timo Boll and Co. first defeated ASV Grünwettersbach and then their long-time rivals 1. FC Saarbrücken TT in the final to win the first title of the season. The organisers, the German Table Tennis League (TTBL), were delighted to welcome around 5000 fans to the ratiopharm arena Ulm/Neu-Ulm, which was once again sold out and confirmed the attendance record.

Timo Boll was unusually emotional on Sunday afternoon. With his arms raised high, a broad grin and visibly satisfied, the table tennis superstar did a lap of the pit and was celebrated by his team-mates. Boll and Borussia Düsseldorf had just won the final of the German Table Tennis Cup 3:0 against 1. FC Saarbrücken TT, once again relegating their long-time rivals to second place.

Boll himself provided the final point in the final. He found himself 2:1 down against Darko Jorgic, but fought his way into the deciding set - where he rushed from point to point. To the rhythmic applause of the crowd, Boll took a 9:0 lead and the final was decided. A short time later, the Düsseldorf players were in each other's arms, celebrating the 28th cup victory in the club's history and the first since 2021. Düsseldorf had lost in the final in each of the previous two years. For Boll, it was the 13th cup win of his career. "I performed well and can be really happy with my performance for the first time in a while," said Boll afterwards. "At a moment like this, you realise that all the work has paid off. Now, of course, I hope I can maintain this level."

Further title chances in TTBL and Champions League

The two teams have a rich history in the finals, having met time and again in the recent past. Düsseldorf and Saarbrücken have met three times in a row, most recently in the Liebherr TTBL final for the German Team Championships and last season in the Champions League final. The two perennial rivals have further chances of winning the title in the German Table Tennis League and again in the Champions League: in the TTBL, Düsseldorf goes into the second half of the season leading the table ahead of Saarbrücken; in the premier league, both teams are in the Final Four, which takes place at FCS on the Easter weekend.

There was therefore a challenge from their defeated opponents in the final - and congratulations: "Düsseldorf were simply better today," acknowledged FCS coach Wang Zhi. "We will continue to work from tomorrow, train even better and harder and then attack again next time." Cedric Meissner took part in the Final Four for the first time and promptly made his debut, playing in the semi-final against Ochsenhausen against Hugo Calderano and in the doubles. "Unfortunately, we didn't do very well in the final," he said afterwards. "But games like that happen in sport - I hope things go better for us again next time."

Dang Qiu defies the circumstances - and celebrates with Düsseldorf for the first time

"I'm very happy - the title was our goal, of course," said Qiu. He had already won the trophy with Grünwettersbach in 2020, and this was his first triumph in the Düsseldorf jersey. The 27-year-old had only returned from the WTT Finals the day before, where he had eliminated two Chinese players and sensationally celebrated third place. "The preparation wasn't ideal with the stress of travelling and the change of equipment," said Qiu, "but in the end, the main thing is that we won the trophy." His coach Danny Heister gave extra praise to the whole team: "I'm incredibly proud of the whole team," said the 52-year-old. "Now we've won our first title, we can take a deep breath. There's always a lot of pressure in Düsseldorf, but that's part of it."

Before Boll's final point, his team-mates had left no doubt that they wanted to hold the coveted trophy in their hands again after three years. Dang Qiu, who had struggled to get going in the semi-final against Grünwettersbach's Tiago Apolonia (0:3), led the way with a 3:0 win over Yuto Muramatsu. Anton Källberg then produced a brilliant performance and almost drove Patrick Franziska to despair. The Saarbrücken player repeatedly gesticulated in the direction of the bench - this time he was unable to find a solution against Källberg. The Swede's 3-0 win finally paved the way for Boll and his first title of the season.

Saarbrücken eliminates Ochsenhausen in the semi-finals

Düsseldorf had previously had to fend off strong resistance in the semi-finals. Against ASV Grünwettersbach, the record champions came under pressure several times, but usually had the right answers at hand. Källberg prevented a 1:2 set deficit against Deni Kozul in the opening singles with four set points in a row, won 3:1 and a little later also 3:2 against Tiago Apolonia; Timo Boll held out against Ricardo Walther. Only Qiu had to pick up speed in his first match after returning from the WTT Finals and lost 0:3 to Apolonia, who was celebrated with loud chants from the fans. The final score was 3:1 against Baden, who were frenetically cheered on by their fans.

The duel at the next table was still ongoing at this point, Saarbrücken fought a three-hour table tennis thriller with TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen and ultimately triumphed 3:2 to reach the final. Patrick Franziska emerged as the decisive player with victories in singles and doubles; Jorgic also scored for FCS with the break against Hugo Calderano. "Of course we're disappointed and sad, we would have loved to have made it to the final," said Ochsenhausen's Alvaro Robles after the semi-final defeat and praised the crowd: "Last year, the atmosphere was already incredible and one of the best in my career. But this year it was even better. It was so much fun to play here."

Spectator record confirmed: 5000 fans in the ratiopharm arena

Not only the players had fun, but also the organisers of the German Table Tennis League in view of the backdrop and the high level of sport. With 5000 spectators, the record from the previous year was confirmed. "The dual sports city of Ulm/Neu-Ulm is the home of the Table Tennis Cup," summarised Nico Stehle, Managing Director of Tischtennis Bundesliga GmbH. The Liebherr Cup Final Four was held in the ratiopharm arena for the ninth time in a row. "We have once again experienced a fantastic event in which the elite of European table tennis competed. My huge thanks therefore go to the clubs and players, the sponsors, all the helpers and supporters, without whom this event would not have been possible."

The Liebherr Cup Final Four was once again very well received by the media. All three matches of the day were broadcast live on Dyn and are available there as re-live and in various highlight formats. The highlights of the event will also be shown on ARD-Sportschau as well as in a 30-minute special programme on Saarländischer Rundfunk (SR) and various SWR news formats. There will also be a detailed 60-minute summary on Monday, 8 January, from 6.30 pm on SPORT1.

The overview of the Liebherr Cup Final Four


1. FC Saarbrücken TT – Borussia Düsseldorf 0:3

Yuto Muramatsu – Dang Qiu 0:3 (7:11, 6:11, 5:11)
Patrick Franziska – Anton Källberg 0:3 (3:11, 8:11, 6:11)
Darko Jorgic – Timo Boll 2:3 (7:11, 12:10, 11:6, 10:12, 2:11)


Borussia Düsseldorf – ASV Grünwettersbach 3:1
Anton Källberg – Deni Kozul 3:1 (11:3, 5:11, 12:10, 12:10)
Dang Qiu – Tiago Apolonia 0:3 (8:11, 9:11, 9:11)
Timo Boll – Ricardo Walther 3:0 (17:15, 11:5, 11:4)
Anton Källberg – Tiago Apolonia 3:2 (11:9, 9:11, 11:4, 7:11, 11:5)

TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen – 1. FC Saarbrücken TT 2:3
Hugo Calderano – Darko Jorgic 2:3 (12:10, 4:11, 8:11, 11:6, 8:11)
Alvaro Robles – Yuto Muramatsu 3:1 (10:12, 11:8, 11:9, 11:7)
Simon Gauzy – Patrick Franziska 2:3 (8:11, 7:11, 12:10, 11:5, 8:11)
Hugo Calderano – Cedric Meissner 3:0 (11:7, 11:2, 11:4)
Alvaro Robles/Simon Gauzy – Cedric Meissner/Patrick Franziska 1:3 (3:11, 11:8, 5:11, 7:11)

Featured image above: Borussia Düsseldorf at the award ceremony (Photo: BeLa Sportfoto)

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