Ma Long won a sensational men's singles final against Fan Zhendong today ©Getty Images

Ma Long was forced to dig the deepest he has ever gone in his illustrious career to defeat Chinese team-mate Fan Zhendong today and successfully defend his International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Championship men's singles title here.

The match is already being talked about as one most exciting in the history of the sport. 

Ma, the reigning Olympic champion and world number one, recovered from losing the opening set to win the next three against his 20-year-old opponent.

His forehand was too powerful, his footwork too quick and his mental game on the big points second to none. 

Fan, winner of the men's singles title at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, was not even selected for the Chinese team at last year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

He back fought back here, taking an early lead in the fifth.

Fa held on to reduce the deficit before superb serving saw him edge the sixth and force a decider.

Ma, shouting and roaring after every point, took a 6-3 lead only to be pegged back to 7-9.

Sheer willpower saw the top seed win two points against the Fan serve to level proceedings.

A risky long serve of his own was received long to set-up a match point only for his opponent to win a breathtaking rally to level.

At this point, photographers were running up and down at the side of the court as they constantly changed their minds over who was the likely winner that they needed to snap.

Fan then missed a return to give Ma another opportunity and, this time, he capitalised with a lightning forehand winner to seal a second world title in front of an enraptured 8,000 capacity crowd.

Ma Long, right, and Fan Zhendong each dazzled on another brilliant day for China ©Getty Images
Ma Long, right, and Fan Zhendong each dazzled on another brilliant day for China ©Getty Images

"It's the craziest final in which I’ve ever played," Ma admitted.

"I’ll always remember today."

Ma has also won seven world titles in doubles and team events and is now considered among the greatest to play the game.

Fan's time will surely come at Tokyo 2020 or beyond.

Both men had demolished their opponents in 4-0 in semi-finals earlier today.

Ma outclassed third seed and another team-mate, Xu Xin, while Fan defeated South Korea's Lee Sang-Su.

Ding Ning followed her singles success yesterday with a thrilling women's doubles win alongside Liu Shiwen in the final match of these Championships.

They were taken to a deciding seventh game by Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling in an all-Chinese final before holding their nerve to triumph 4-3.

It marked Ding's first doubles world crown after silver medals in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015.

Liu, a singles bronze medallist, triumphed for the second successive edition after partnering Zhu to gold two years ago in Suzhou.

Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu of Singapore shared the bronze medal with Hina Hayata and Mima Ito of Japan after each lost their earlier semi-finals.