MA Long: It’s the craziest final in which I’ve ever playedPhoto: ITTF
LIEBHERR 2017 World Championships
Defending champion, Ma Long repeated the success at the LIEBHERR 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf, experienced two years earlier in Suzhou when he won the Men’s Singles title.
The top seed beat Chinese national team colleague, FAN Zhendong, the no.2 seed, (7-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-7, 5-11, 7-11, 12-10) to retain the title.
“It’s the craziest final in which I’ve ever played; I’ll always remember today,” Ma Long admitted after the match.
Comparing two final, MA stated: "I feel very happy to won, but I feel I was a bit lucky this time. I apologise to Fan Zhendong, but the future belongs to him; mentally I was not certain on how to prepare for the game, so I consulted LIU Guoliang. I thank him of this guidance and tolerance. I would also like to specially thank ZHANG Jike because of his achievements, I really looked up to him and he is my role model, I have learnt a lot from his game."
MA complained that he is not at the very best of his shape before the match.
"I was feeling tired before the Championship, partly due to post Olympics time and the new ball. I was not feeling focused and mentally I was not self confident. But I consulted LIU Guoliang, who gave me good guidance. This is the World Championships anyways, only once two years, I had the opportunity and wanted to do my best."
What guidance did LIU Guoliang gave you?
MA Long: “He told me that I am in the life shape and that I might not be in this condition again after 2 years, so I must fight hard to win the title. “
MA Long and FAN Zhendong were practicing together before the match.
"The Chinese national team always practices together, there is nothing to hide from each other, and this is our tradition. We are the team."
FAN Zhendong added: “We both played at a very high level today, I fought very hard. Maybe when I got the opportunity, I didn’t grab it and made mistakes. I congratulate ma Long, we both gave a wonderful performance today. I lost by a very close margin, its very difficult to summarize it. I will work on the details, get faster for the next time as I was a bit slow this time."
At 3-3, 10-10, everything was still open.
Ma Long: “I really did not give this too much focus. It is more a question of routine, not about technique because I have no space to think too much; I’m just focused.”
In the morning part of the program, MA Long beat his colleague XU Xin; he had emerged successful in four straight games (11-6, 11-9, 11-9, 11-3). FAN Zhendong followed suit; the no.2 seed, he beat Korea’s LEE Sangsu, the no.17 seed (11-5, 11-9, 11-6, 11-1).
“Before no one knows LEE Sangsu. Then he beat ZHANG Jike, SAMSONOV, and then WONG Chun Ting. He played very well. With the doubles medal as well this was a very good tournament for us,” Said LEE’s coach KIM Taek-Soo.
XU Xin reflected on his tournament: “There were good and bad parts. I feel like the semi-finals were bad, losing zero to four. It also includes the first match of singles, where every minute seemed like I might lose. I feel like my performance in the other matches were quite good.”