04 Mar 2019

The defending champion, seeking a third consecutive title but absent from the international scene since mid-August, when departing in the opening round of the men’s singles event at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Asarel Bulgaria Open, the question posed is will China’s Ma Long be fit to compete at the forthcoming Liebherr 2019 World Championships?

Time is running out, we are only just over six weeks away; play starts in Budapest on Sunday 21st April.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

However, one player who believes he will be ready is the most important of all; it is Ma Long himself!

Recently when interviewed by the Olympic Channel, he was in no doubt whatsoever.

“I feel based on my recovery right now, I’m confident that I will compete.” Ma Long

Physically he may be ready but that was expected to be the situation three months ago in December for the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Incheon; equally we anticipated his appearance at the recent 2019 Marvellous 12 but discretion proved the better part of valour.

Notably, his name appears on the entry list for the forthcoming Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open; now that is the big test. Practice, physical training but nothing matches the heat of competition. It is a fact of which Ma Long is well aware.

“I need to find some competitive form because I think I haven’t played internationally for some six months now.” Ma Long

There are question marks over Ma Long; rather differently, having maintained an unblemished record at the 2019 Marvellous 12, colleague Fan Zhendong is the name on the lips of the pundits for the success in Budapest. Equally Liang Jingkun is in sparkling form.

Now can Ma Long prove the doubters wrong? He did just that at the Qoros 2015 World Championships.

Prior to the meeting four years ago in Suzhou, there were those who believed Ma Long had a major question to answer; basically could he respond on the big occasion? Could he respond on the really big occasion?

In three consecutive semi-finals, commencing ten years ago in 2009 in Yokohama, followed by 2011 in Eindhoven and 2013 in Paris, he had lost to compatriot Wang Hao; no disrespect to the splendid Wang Hao but on each occasion Ma Long had underperformed.

He answered his doubters unequivocally in Suzhou; can he do the same in Budapest? Can he prove the pundits wrong?

Olympic Channel: Exclusive: Injured Ma Long expects World Championships return

2019 World Table Tennis Championships ma long

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