Interview with Italian Matteo Mutti at the eve of WJTTC in Riva del Garda.
We often speak about table tennis like an Asian sport, because of their supremacy. How do you describe the gap between Asia and Europe? Is it bigger than last years or do you think you get closer? Matteo Mutti: «There still is a difference, but the last few years we can see a change. Even by the senior the change is visible with the Dimitrij Ovtcharov’s great victories. But the big difference I see, occur at the big events like Olympic Games or World Championships. Effectively, we fast always see four Chinese players in the semifinals. I also see a big difference with the technic and the mentality. When they are 7-8 years old they already play 6-7 ours in training with an established technic».
In your mind, what is the most important aspect to improve to compete at the same level with Asian Teams? «Probably the mentality. But I think the technic is an other important aspect, in the sense to improve in the security in the game. Shots have to be trained again and again to gain in security. Asian players fast never do mistakes, they always make you play one more shot».
You play at home, in Italy. This is obviously a great motivation, but also a pressure. How do you feel about that? «There is effectively more pressure to play as the Italian number one here in Riva del Garda. The other players want to beat you. But I feel quite confident with that because I know well my capacities».
With your ranking (N°43) of outsider, what are your goals? «The first goal is to be in the 32 best players (Round of 16). If I can achieve the Round of 8, that would be a sensational result, because we still have to remember my ranking and there are many players better than me in this ranking».
What do you love in table tennis? «Firstly, I like this sport because it is truly difficult. But it is very fun and everything can happen, surprises are common. I think this is also a nice sport to see, with so many different shots. Every game is different, players all have different characteristics. You will never see two times the same game».