Thursday brought disappointing news for many table tennis supporters in China and around the world after Ma Long was forced to exit the Seamaster 2018 Swedish Open with a knee injury.
The 30-year-old superstar had arrived in Stockholm – the penultimate city on the 2018 ITTF World Tour circuit – to meet ITTF requirements of participating in a minimum of five World Tour events in order to qualify for the World Tour Grand Finals in Incheon, Korea Republic, between 13-16 December.
Despite his withdrawal yesterday – before being able to take on Jens Lundqvist in their round of 32 match – Ma Long has ticked that box, but it now remains for him to recover in time for the end-of-year showpiece event.
Whilst he now faces a race against the clock to be back on court in time, Ma Long reached out to his over 3.4 million followers on Weibo, especially to those who were set to tune in last night despite the current seven-hour time difference between Sweden and China:
“I would like to apologise to my fans who stayed up late to watch me play. I had already felt pain in my knee during the Chinese Super League. Before coming to Sweden, I went to hospital and received a lidocaine injection. I made my greatest efforts trying to meet ITTF requirements to qualify for the World Tour Grand Finals, but so far I have not made a good recovery. Next, I will try my best to get back to the court soon. I am never afraid of any opponent and I will not accept defeat this time either! Showing fighting spirit and coming back full of energy: this is the only way for every fighter!”
ITTF wishes Ma Long a speedy recovery.