by Kabir Nagpal
There is little left to be said about the Dragon and his exploits, but the recent month proved that we can indeed wax lyrical for a ‘Long’ time when it comes to the world no.3.
Ma Long’s performances clearly underlined that the reigning Olympic and World champion has fully recovered from all his injuries. The win at the ITTF Finals was followed by another new trophy added to his bulging collection. In Macao, he claimed gold.
The one man who is defying expectations and setting new personal standards, is Sweden’s Mattias Falck.
Having famously reached the men’s singles final at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest, Falck now has another feather in his cap. In Macao at the quarter-final stage, he defeated world no.2, Xu Xin, for the first time ever in his career.
Renewed belief in his abilities can be credited to the legendary Jörgen Persson. Using short pimpled rubber on the forehand, will it be an added advantage moving forward? Time will tell.
In a time where table tennis is increasingly being dominated by upcoming teenagers, Wang Chuqin has had to face tough competition from players of his generation in the shapes of Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju and Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto. After his silver-medal finish in Macao, the Chinese youngster might have a claim to be the best of the trio!
An expert at creating angles from the backhand, Wang is no stranger to playing the top Chinese three of Fan Zhendong, Ma Long and Xu Xin. Is Wang set to lead the next “Big Three” comprising of Harimoto, Lin and himself?
Last and not the least, Jeoung Youngsik set off some fireworks with his efforts at the WTT event. Impressively, he reached the quarterfinals after seeing off Liam Pitchford in a five-game thriller. The strong backhand a feature of his play, he was too strong for the Englishman.
A dangerous opponent for anyone – even the Chinese – but in Macao he was not able to match the power and sheer efficiency of Ma Long in their quarterfinal contest. Where will his talent lead him?