Reigning world champion Ma Long of China fought back from a game down to secure his 20th International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour title with victory over compatriot Xu Xin as at the China Open in Chengdu.
Ma, the current world number one, dropped the opening game before he recovered to win 13-15, 11-4, 11-7, 12-10, 11-9 to maintain his pursuit of Belarusian Vladimir Samsanov’s record of 26 World Tour crowns.
The 26-year-old, part of the Chinese London 2012 Olympic Games gold-medal winning team, produced an impressive display to edge Xu, ranked number two in the world.
He endured a tricky route to the final, needing seven games to beat Japan’s Yuya Oshima, who had to qualify for the main competition, in a tense semi-final before he went on to clinch his sixth China Open gold.
“This is the sixth time I have won the China Open, so it is very special to me,” he said.
“It also takes me one step closer to Samsanov’s ITTF World Tour record.
“Xu is always a very tough opponent and I knew I had to be in my best form to defeat him, and thankfully today I was in front this awesome crowd here.”
The favourite may have prevailed in the men’s competition but did not prove to be the case in the women’s event as Zhu Yuling produced an excellent performance to beat world champion and favourite Ding Ning in four straight games in an all-China affair.
Zhu, backed by a vociferous home crowd, swept aside the world number one with a comfortable 11-9, 11-4, 13-11, 11-8 success to earn her second ITTF World Tour crown.
“I really felt the support today from my local crowd and I know Ding Ning is an amazing player, so I needed to be at the top of my game,” she said.
“It was a surprise that I played so well and won 4-0.
“This was because I put all my heart and soul into match and I am so happy to be the champion!"
Beaten men’s singles finalist Xu did manage to enjoy some success, teaming up with FAN Zhendong to beat compatriots Fang Bo and Zhu Linfeng 10-12, 11-6, 7-11, 8-11, 9-11 in a topsy-turvy doubles final.
Liu Shiwen and Chen Meng reigned supreme in the women’s doubles, overcoming the challenge of Gu Yuting and Mu Zi 11-3, 11-9, 11-8 to ensure all four titles were won by the host country.
The Bulgaria Open is the next World Tour event of the season and is due to begin on August 19 and concludes on August 23 in Panagyurishte.
May 2015: China’s Ma secures maiden men's singles title at World Table Tennis Championships
May 2015: Ding overcomes injury to secure thrilling women's singles title at ITTF World Championships
May 2015: China and South Korea combine to claim historic mixed doubles victory at ITTF World Championships
April 2015: Olympic medallists Ovtcharov and Fukuhara suffer surprise exits at World Table Tennis Championships
April 2015: Paraguayan London 2012 player seals passage into main draw of ITTF World Championships