By Henry Chen
Ma Long turned 28 yesterday, 20th October.
At this age, he has successfully completed the Grand Slam champion. He is also considered now to be the strongest player in men’s table tennis. He is the reigning World and Olympic champion and at the same time, the top player in the world ranking.
This eventually boosted the popularity of Ma Long exponentially. In the opening round of the 2016 Chinese Super League, the champion already had his birthday greetings from his fans.
“A lot of fans came to watch our game and they sang a birthday song for me as well. Although my birthday is still a few days from now, they already greeted me because they might not be able to do it in person. I was very touched by what they did,” said Ma Long after the opening round of the league.
At that time, Shandong Weiqiao won the round against the guests from Shenzhen. According to the coach, it was their first time to win their opening match in the competition. He said there was pressure to win it.
“In two previous seasons, we always lost our opening match. Therefore, there was definitely pressure in the game. Ma Long, in addition, also had a lot of activities before this. He trained much lesser.” Shandong Weiqiao’s coach, Yin Xiao, said.
Although it was an overall victory for the team, the team leader Ma Long had a poor performance losing his opening match. The coach added that Ma Long needs more work to achieve his optimum condition again.
“Based on my judgement, his present condition still needs three to five matches more to recover. He is still not in his best condition,” Yin Xiao concluded.
Ma Long indeed played better in the second round. He won his match against Zheng Peifeng in 13-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-7. Ma Long and company will be going back to their home court for the third round and will face Tianjin.