Table tennis star Timo Boll is only one victory away from his first individual World Championship medal in ten years.

At the World Championships in Houston, the record European champion entered the round of the top eight without a fight on Saturday night because his opponent Wang Yang from Slovakia had gone into self-quarantine.

The 27-year-old was identified as the first contact with a person who tested positive for the corona virus, the ITTF said.

"So far this is the only corona case at this World Cup," confirmed the German sports director Richard Prause of the German press agency.

After the positive test became known, there was no longer enough time with Wang Yang to be able to test himself in time for the game against Boll.

Anyone wishing to enter the USA and compete in the World Cup had to be vaccinated.

Nevertheless, the corona measures in Houston are no longer as strict as at the Olympic Games in Tokyo or even at the competitions of the new World Table Tennis Tour (WTT) in spring, which are organized as pure tournament bubbles.

Players and coaches are not tested every day and can move freely around the hotel.

For Boll the following applies: If he also reaches the semi-finals on Saturday (local time), he will already have at least the bronze medal.

Because a third place is not played out at a table tennis world championship.

Six world championship medals

So far, bronze at the 2011 World Championships in Rotterdam is the biggest single success in the long career of the 40-year-old Boll.

The star of Borussia Düsseldorf has already topped the world rankings four times, has won eight European titles and six World Cup medals with the German team.

At an individual World Cup, however, he never got further than the quarter-finals in the past four attempts.

In Budapest in 2019, it was Boll who had to give up before the round of 16 due to a feverish infection.

A parallel between the current World Cup and the one two years ago is: Again there were numerous falls of favorites in Boll's half of the tournament, which made the way into a semi-final or even into the final appear possible for him. Vice-world champion Mattias Falck (Sweden), the number two seeded Japanese Tomokazu Harimoto (Japan), the Olympic semi-finalist Lin Yun-Ju (Taiwan) or European team champion Patrick Franziska (Germany): They all surprisingly got divorced in the past few days the end. None of Boll's potential quarter- and semi-final opponents are in the top 15 in the world rankings. He could only meet a Chinese again in the final.

“With the Chinese Zhou Qihao, Timo had the most difficult second-round ticket imaginable.

But now his tournament corner is free from the top Asian players, ”said Prause.

“It's still a World Cup and no opponent is a sure-fire success here.

But of course Timo now has a chance.

So far he has made a very good impression here. "