By Henry Chen
“Today, my performance in the match was normal. I had the chance to win in the first two games. Fan Zhendong definitely did extremely well today. Congratulations to him!” Ma Long said after losing the finals.
Yesterday, Ma Long fought hard just to reach the final match of the 2016 ITTF World Tour SheSays China Open. The 2016 Olympic Singles champion was forced into a decider by another Olympic champion, Zhang Jike.
But in the end, Ma Long survived in 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 3-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-5.
Ma Long then proceeded into the finals where he met the much younger compatriot, Fan Zhendong. After not being able to play in the Rio Olympic Games, the 19-year old was full of vigour to show himself in front of his home crowd. Meanwhile, Ma Long played with the advantage of winning all prior World Tour encounters against Fan Zhendong.
In this battle between determination and experience, the former won in 4-0. Fan Zhendong stunned everyone with his good form as he secured the championship title in 11-9, 13-11, 11-8, 11-5.
Of course, Ma Long was impressed with what his opponent has shown in the match. He felt he had the chance to win in the early part of the battle. However, Fan Zhendong had the momentum to create an upset and eventually win.
After winning the Rio Olympic Games, Ma Long has placed himself as a favourite target of everyone. So has he prepared himself for more challenges like these in the future?
“Actually, as a player of the Chinese Team, I have always had this feeling. Regardless if I took the Grand Slam or not, other players will always consider winning over the Chinese Team as the happiest thing,” he added.
Ma Long further stated that this situation could be the same with his compatriots, including the 19-year old Fan Zhendong. He said that foreign players will always give their best against them. Therefore, there’s no other way but to prepare for them all the time.