by Simon Daish
Suzhou, China was the host city for the Qoros 2015 World Championships from Sunday 26th to Sunday 3rd May as one of the most enthusiastic table tennis loving nations in the world welcomed the greatest of the sport’s competitors from all across the globe.
The event in Suzhou featured action from Mixed Doubles, Women’s Doubles, Men’s Doubles and Women’s Singles competitions keeping in line with the usual format seen at previous World Championships.
However, it was the Men’ Singles tournament that featured one of the standout points of all time.
Leading up to the final there were several high-profile shocks in the category as spectators were treated to a dramatic and exciting competition.
Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan was one of the first major casualties to face elimination after his exit to Ádám Pattantyús of Hungary in the Round of 128 (6-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-1, 7-11, 10-12, 11-9), while the sixth and 18th seeds Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Tiago Apolonia suffered unexpected defeats to Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu and England’s Liam Pitchford respectively in the following round.
Ma Long had been named as the top seed for the Men’s Singles draw and so his presence in the final didn’t come as too much of a surprise, and his victory over fellow Chinese representative Fan Zhendong in the last four (11-1, 11-7, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5) gave the World no.1 a great deal of confidence.
The other player in the last four expected to take on Ma Long for the title was Zhang Jike, but the London 2012 Men’s Singles gold medallist was stunned by 13th seed Fang Bo in the semi-finals (11-5, 11-7, 5-11, 11-9, 12-10) who had knocked the second seed Xu Xin out of the competition two rounds earlier.
Both Ma Long and Fang Bo put in strong performance in front of the home crowd in the Men’s Singles final, and while the top seed eventually went on to claim the title it was Fang Bo who came out on top in the ‘Point of the Century’.
The point in question took place in game five with the scores level at 11 points apiece. Fang Bo got the rally underway with a mid-range service down the centre of the table, and it looked as though Ma Long was on top in the opening stages of the point.
However, Fang Bo held strong and soon the advantage was in his favour, forcing Ma Long into defence. Then both players continued to demonstrate an attacking masterclass, before Fang Bo hit a powerful forehand down the middle of the table with Ma Long unable to complete a successful return.
Despite being on the losing end of game five’s infamous point Ma Long emerged as the Men’s Singles champion, and celebrated by leaping onto the table acknowledging the fans in what can only be described as a wonderful occasion.
Fang Bo and Ma Long’s showdown in Suzhou produced the ‘Point of the Century’, but could we possibly witness a rally even more mesmerising at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf?