by Wade Townsend
China’s Ma Long saw off the unique stylings of Koki Niwa, winning 4-1 (11-8, 12-10, 9-11, 11-5, 11-3).
The match got of to a close start, with Ma narrowly taking the lead in each game. Niwa finally made a dent in Ma’s armour when he took the third game; but it simply released the dragon.
Ma Long step things up a gear and powered through his opponent. Despite the fangirls screaming “Niwa fighto”, he kept coming up short. By the end of the match Niwa had resorted to some experimental shot making in search of points, but without success. He will have to go back to research and development before their next encounter.
Ma Long recognised his opponent’s special approach to the game.
“Niwa’s level has improved a lot over the past two years, making it to the top 8 at the Olympic Games and at the World Championships. His playing style is more freestyle, that’s something unique about his play.” Ma Long
Ma Long will face colleague Xu Xin in the semi-final. Xu was gifted a place in the semi final, with Fang Bo, also from China, retiring with a wrist injury.