By Neha Aggarwal
Timo Boll put up a great show but Ma Long true to his self, had all the answers. He won in six games (11-5, 8-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-4, 11-9).
The atmosphere inside the Messe arena was electrifying for the German fans, their hero was up against the current Olympic Champion. Timo Boll challenged Ma Long to the best of his abilities. Ma Long won the first game 11-5, but Boll responded back to win the next game 11-8. Both the players then went to a two-two matchup.
However, Boll got an early lead in the sixth game. He stayed closer to the table, trying to match up to Ma Long’s speed. Leading 8-4 in the sixth game, Boll dominated the match until then but Ma Long would not give up.
He won three points in a row to make it to 8-7 when Boll called a Time Out. Boll raced to 9-8, giving the German fans some hope. But little did they knew that it was short lived.
“I mostly just told myself not to give up. Even though I was behind four to eight, but the match still wasn’t over, that was my first thought. Although netballs might be very important, luck is also part of the competition. You cannot change it, so I just tried to stabilize my mental game.”- Ma Long
At this time Ma Long’s coach Qin Zhijian seemed so worried, this is his first World Championships as Chinese Men’s team coach.
Ma Long saved the day winning the sixth game 11-9 and thus moved to the semi finals.
After the win Ma Long said, ” This is my toughest match yet in the championship. It’s sad that we lost in the doubles and hope this win will be a great match for the table tennis fans to remember.”
Ma Long and Timo Boll had paired up in the doubles but lost in the round of 16 to Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin.
One can argue that this maybe Timo Boll’s best performance against Ma Long since he beat the Chinese in Moscow World Championships in 2010 in the Men’s Team finals. Germany’s national Men’s coach Jörg Rosskopf agreed, “Yes, I am please with his performance, he had a good chance because Ma Long was struggling. They played well in the doubles and Timo played a great match in the singles. He is in great shape now.”
Enjoying the atmosphere here in Düsseldorf, Ma Long said, ” I really enjoyed the German fans cheering for Boll, there were also so many cheering for me. Thank you to the fans.”
Ma Long will face the winner of Xu Xin and Tomokazu Harimoto in the semi-finals.