by Ian Marshall, Editor
Prior to the tournament, against Fan Zhendong, Ma Long had won all five encounters in world ranking events but earlier in the year when they had met on in the Chinese Super League, in the three meetings, Fan Zhendong had prevailed.
In Lisbon, Ma Long made the better start, by the minimal two point margin he secured the opening two games; Fan Zhendong responded. He secured the next three games; then the drama started. In the sixth game Fan Zhendong went ahead 5-2, Ma Long levelled at 5-all but then at 8-6 he was again in the ascendancy. Ma Long won five in row, a deciding seventh beckoned.
Once again Fan Zhendong made the better start. He went ahead 6-2; then incredibly lost the next eight points! Four match points for Ma Long; then another twist, Fan Zhendong won the three in row but he could not make it four. Ma Long collapsed in a heap on the floor, Fan Zhendong stood motionless, totally stunned.
Ma Long won in seven games (12-10, 12-10, 11-13, 7-11, 7-11, 11-9).
Now, in Incheon the chances of all Chinese clashes are high and some bemoan that fact but if the level of play and the drama of that final can be reproduced at any stage of the competition, the nationality of the gladiators will soon be forgotten.