MA Long Wins Record Fifth ITTF German Open Title in Bremen
Reigning World & Olympic Champion MA Long (CHN) has continued to make table tennis history, this time at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open, claiming a record fifth German Open title today, 25 March 2018 at the ÖVB Arena in Bremen, Germany! The former world number one, whose world ranking fell due to inactivity in 2017, was determined to make a strong return in the international stage. Seeded fifth at the 2018 ITTF German Open, MA was in dominant form throughout the tournament, eliminating other world top stars including Jun MIZUTANI (JPN) and home favourite Timo BOLL (GER) en-route to the Final.
The 29-year-old faced off compatriot XU Xin in the Men's Singles final showdown for Gold. The duo was both on fire, pulling off world class table tennis action in front of the capacity crowd in the arena. It was MA who was able to hold his nerve in the tightly contest encounter to prevail 4-1 (11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-6). "I'm very happy with this victory, especially after missing out on the World Tour for nine months. Germany is a lucky country for me, and Bremen a lucky city. I'm happy to be back and thank you everyone for supporting me here," stated MA after the historic win.
"Both of us played at a very high level today, especially in the first 4 games where it all ended with 11-9. Overall I think I handled the crucial moments better to gold on to the opportunity."
With his victory, MA is now another step closer to table tennis evergreen Vladimir SAMSONOV's 27 ITTF World Tour record, with a total of 25 World Tour titles under his belt.
In a classic attack vs defense battle in the Women's Singles Final, second seeded Kasumi ISHIKAWA (JPN) faced Korea Republic's SUH Hyowon who shocked top seed FENG Tianwei to make her appearance in the final showdown.
SUH was unable to repeat her success against ISHIKAWA to create another upset, as the world number three smashed her way through the final to take home the prestigious title for the first time in her career, winning 4-1 (11-9, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6).
An elated ISHIKAWA shared "I didn't expect that I could win the title. It was really a surprise. Last year I won the Mixed Doubles at the World Championships in Germany, this is really my lucky place. This victory gave me confidence for the World Championships coming up in Sweden next month."
Japan was successful in the Women's Doubles event as well, with 17-year-olds Mima ITO and Hina HAYATA defeating Korea Republic pair JEON Jihee and YANG Haeun 3-1 (11-3, 11-5, 10-12, 11-6). Rivals in the Men's Singles Final, MA and XU joined forces to claim the Men's Doubles title, beating defending Champions LEE Sangsu and JEOUNG Youngsik from Korea Republic 3-0 (11-7, 11-8, 11-9).
With the conclusion of the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open, the world's best players now turn their attention to the Liebherr 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships that will be held in Halmstad, Sweden from 29 April to 6 May 2018.