28 Apr 2019

The defending champion, China’s Ma Long retained his men’s singles title at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest on Sunday 28th April and thus even more indelibly inscribed his name in the history books of sport.

At the final hurdle he overcame Mattias Falck in five games (11-5, 11-7, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5), the Swede proving a more than worthy adversary.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Thus for the sixth consecutive occasion Ma Long stood on the men’s singles podium when the World Championships curtain closed, more significantly for the third time in a row on the top step.

Most certainly he was tested, after losing the opening two games, Mattias Falck dominated the third before establishing an 8-6 lead in the fourth, at 9-8 in arrears Ma Long called “Time Out”, advice from coach Qin Zhijian, the pause worked to perfection. A two game cushion a more relaxed Ma Long, pressed the accelerator.

“I think this is a special celebration for me and I just want to enjoy this moment for now.
I want thank my Chinese fans and also the foreign fans for their support. I am not only interested in winning this title but I also want to gain your respect.” Ma Long

Only on debut, when in 2017 in the fourth round in Zagreb he tried to blast the defensive skills of the Korea Republic’s Joo Saehyuk out of the water and duly came to grief, has Ma Long not departed with a men’s singles medal. Commencing in 2009 in Yokohama, on three editions it was a semi-final defeat at the hands of colleague Wang Hao; in 2015 in Suzhou he turned the corner and ever since has been driving down the main road.

He now joins the elite club of which Hungarian born Victor Barna and China’s Zhuang Zedong are members; players who have won the men’s singles title at a World Championships on three consecutive occasions.

Notably in an era when the event was he held on an annual basis Victor Barna won in 1930 in Berlin, before in 1931 being the runner up in Budapest; one year later he succeeded in 1932 in Prague and then on the next three occasions to make it an incredible four in row, five overall.

A total of six World Championships and always a place on the podium, it is the same number for Ma Long but note over a period of more than a decade, as opposed to the seven year period of Victor Barna. The two great names stand shoulder to shoulder.

Equally, Ma Long matches Zhuang Zedong, the winner on three consecutive occasions, when as now the event is held on a biennial basis; he won in 1961 in Beijing, in 1963 in Prague and then in 1965 in Ljubljana. One can only surmise but had it not been for the Cultural Revolution would he have made it four in a row in 1967 in Stockholm?

It is to that illustrious club Ma Long now belongs; legendary status.

Men’s Singles Final: Match Report

2019 World Table Tennis Championships ma long Mattias Falck

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