17 Jun 2017

Local supporters lived in hope but in the Men’s Doubles final at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum Lion Japan Open, on the evening of Saturday 17th June, their aspirations were quashed by one of the best Men’s Doubles partnerships, if not the best, that has ever graced the sport.

Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura, the no.6 seeds, who at the semi-final stage had caused somewhat of a surprise by beating colleagues, Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima, the top seeds (11-7, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9), found China’s Ma Long and Xu Xin, the no.2 seeds, in no mood for charity.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

After having beaten compatriots, qualifiers Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan in straight games in the penultimate round (11-6, 11-6, 11-9); they handed out the same severe punishment when facing Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura (11-9, 11-3, 11-7).

Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura are both somewhat unpredictable players; in the opening game, taking a measured amount of risks, they did cause Ma Long and Xu Xin some problems but once the first game was clinched, there was no stopping the Chinese juggernaut.

In the second game Ma Long and Xu Xin were too quick on the first attack, they forced errors from the Japanese duo, poor Maharu Yoshimura couldn’t put a foot right.

The game was over in the blink of an eye; in the third Ma Long and Xu Xin went ahead 4-2, the Japanese camp called “Time Out”. A re-think but it was no avail; at 10-3, the Chinese duo held seven match points, two were saved. Ma Long and Xu Xin called a precautionary “Time Out”. The pause worked to a treat, the next point and the title was secured.

It was for the pairing of Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura their third appearance in an ITTF World Tour Men’s Doubles final, their third defeat; for Ma Long and Xu Xin the antithesis, it was their seventh appearance, their seventh win; their third in a row in Japan.

“I’m happy to win the title, of course I’m even more excited to know just now that this is our third consecutive doubles title in Japan!” Ma Long

“I only knew that today as well. We don’t get to pair with each other often now, so we value every chance to play alongside each other. As long as we play our best, it doesn’t matter who our opponent is.” Xu Xin

Notably the coach on duty for Ma Long and Xu Xin was Ma Lin; arguably the ideal advisor, making the perfect team of three. He is the most successful Men’s Doubles exponent on the ITTF World Tour; no player is anywhere near him. On the ITTF World Tour with different partners, he reached 59 finals, he won 39 times.

Impressive and you can add to that record success in the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals. He reached the title deciding match seven times; again with different partners, he won five times.

Also, you can add to the gold with Chen Qi at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and at the Liebherr 2007 World Championships.

Ma Lin the greatest Men’s Doubles player of all time; Ma Long and Xu Xin the best pair?

World Tour 2017 Seamaster Japan Open ma long xu xin Koki Niwa Maharu Yoshimura

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