Dimitrij Ovtcharov just missed the final of the Olympic table tennis tournament.

The third in London 2012 was defeated by the Chinese world champion and Rio winner Ma Long 3: 4 despite a strong performance in a crime thriller (11:13, 8:11, 11: 9, 11: 9, 7:11, 11: 5, 9:11) and plays for bronze on Friday (1:00 p.m. CEST in the FAZ live ticker for Olympia, on ZDF and Eurosport).

When he missed the final, Ovtcharov sought peace in the empty grandstand. The 32-year-old struggled with his feelings and called his wife Jenny and his father Michail. “I couldn't do that without my family. All the tournaments and the hard training that I go through is really very, very hard in sport. It's hard to cope with everything alone. I just wanted to hear their voice, ”said the highly emotional Ovtcharov. "You shouted very encouraging words to me, and of course that feels good in this tough moment."

For Ovtcharov, the end was difficult to digest.

“That was one of the best games I've ever played.

I had the best player ever, on the verge of defeat at the biggest tournament, ”said Ovtcharov:“ In the end, only God knows why things go this way in sport. ”Opponents in the fight for their fifth The Olympic medal is only 19-year-old Lin Yun-Ju from Taiwan, who also lost 3: 4 to world number one Fan Zhendong.

For the fourth time in a row, two Chinese are in the Olympic final.

19th defeat in 19th game

Ovtcharov (Hameln / Orenburg) started strong, but missed a set ball in the first round with a score of 10: 9.

The last European in the competition then fell behind with 0-2 sets, but managed to equalize: the right-hander won the third round after being 7-9 behind, and in the fourth he made up a 5-8.

After Ovtcharov had equalized again by winning the sixth set, the final round had to decide.

Here Ma Long had the better nerve and turned his third power ball after 1:21 hours.

In the 19th duel with the number three in the world, Ovtcharov suffered the 19th defeat.

European champion Timo Boll (Düsseldorf) was eliminated in the round of 16 for the fourth time in a row.