Three times the bronze medallist; in a final full of breath-taking scintillating rallies, Ma Long, the top seed, won the Men’s Singles title at the QOROS 2015 World Championships on the evening of Sunday 3rd May.
In a contest that kept the capacity crowd in the Suzhou International Expo Center spellbound, Ma Long beat Fang Bo, the no.13 seed, in an all-Chinese final.
A man with a mission to prove he is currently the best player in the world, Ma Long emerged successful in six games (11-7, 7-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-13, 11-4).
Point to Prove
Against Fan Zhendong at the semi-final stage, Ma Long had been on fire earlier in the day. In the final, it was the very same attitude that was displayed, positive, adrenalin gushing through the body.
Ma Long had a point to prove; listed at no.1 on the Men’s World Ranking list on no less than 32 of the monthly publications but never the World champion; the player who reaches the pinnacle of the rankings is respected, the player who is the champion is immortalised.
In Suzhou, Ma Long faced an opponent who was playing at a new level, playing the best table tennis of his life in a style not too dissimilar to that of his own; safe and consistent from the backhand, devastating and dynamic from the forehand.
The first two games were shared as the two traded blow for blow in a heavyweight forehand top spin contest; the third game went to Ma Long in what had become an athletic duel that captivated the crowd.
No quarter was asked, no quarter given; accepted that both players were from the same national association but that fact paled into insignificance as two superb athletes plied their skills,
They showed table tennis to be a sport that demands high levels of fitness, balance, anticipation and mental strength.
Time Out Lesson
In the fourth game, there was little choose between the two gladiators with Ma Long having a slight advantage at 6-5; Fang Bo, perhaps surprisingly, called “Time Out”.
The break worked but it worked in favour of Ma Long, he won the next three points. Fang Bo won the next two points, Ma Long called “Time Out”.
Notably, neither had left the decision to a game which could have concluded the match. Perhaps for coaches and players worldwide, there is a lesson to be learned.
Again the break worked in favour of Ma Long, he went ahead 10-8, two game points, a rally, Fang Bo in control but a return from Ma Long clipped the top of the net, Fang Bo failed to return.
Was that the type of luck you need to win the big final?
Luck or not, the two games cushion had given Ma Long the distinct advantage. Belief was growing in his mind; every success was greeted with a guttural roar.
He led 6-2, then 8-5, closer and closer but Fang Bo to his great credit maintained a positive approach. He reduced the arrears to one point at 8-7; then the point of the match, fearsome top spin exchanges. The point went to Ma Long, the next three to Fang Bo; he led 10-9. Ma Long saved the game point and then at 11-10 held Championship point.
Now Fang Bo saved and then with rallies of the highest possible calibre, powerful top spin play, secured the next three points, the margin was down to one game in favour of Ma Long.
Leaped on Table
Notably the cries from the crowd were for Fang Bo, quite simply, they begged for more, scintillating sport.
A Championship point lost, Ma Long responded to his great credit, at 10-3 in the sixth game, he held seven Championship points; one was saved, no more. Ma Long leapt on the table in celebration.
The point was proven, Ma Long, the World no.1 was the champion of the world. The St. Bride Vase donated in 1929 was in his possession.