Source: China State Council Information Office
Grand Slam winner Ma Long from China beat compatriot Fan Zhendong to win a record-extending sixth ITTF Finals men’s singles title on Sunday.
Ma was also the winner of the year-end competition in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2016.
“The record is used to be broken, and I’m honored and lucky that one is me,” said Ma. “It is a well deserved and special championship for me.”
It was the third straight encounter in the final between the Chinese duo in just over a month, after the National Championships and the World Cup, where Fan both came out as the winner after seven-game thrillers.
It was clear that Ma didn’t want to repeat his recent inferior head-to-head record to Fan. The Chinese men’s team captain met strong resistance early on but soon hit good form and pocketed the first two games at 13-11 and 11-7.
Fan began to come back into contention by adjusting his strategy, turning a 4-8 deficit into a 10-8 advantage. However, Ma saved two game points before winning 12-10, leaving little room for Fan’s rally.
Fan went ahead 9-6 in the fourth game and held two game points again at 10-8. This time, the world No. 1 paddler didn’t waste them, pulling one game back with 11-9.
Ma didn’t concede his superiority from there, converting his second match point at 11-8 after Fan had a backhand return into the net.
“The process was not as the result reflected,” admitted Ma. “The score was not so close as that at the World Cup, as we restrained each other quite well. I had better control over some crucial points today.”