ChinaHa Phan Chan Dong in the final table tennis ITTF Finals 2020 after 5 sets, Ma Long paid the debt at the men’s World Cup singles.
After Covid-19, Ma Long met many events in his career. He did not attend the internal Warm-up tournament, for Chinese players, because he had not healed his wrist injury yet. In the biggest tournament of the year – World Cup, Ma lost his dominant position. He was only able to overcome the number three seed Tomokazu Harimoto, before being won by Phan Chan Dong’s juniors in the final.
At ITTF Finals 2020, the last international tournament of the year, Ma Long is only the third seed, after Phan Chan Dong and Hua Han. However, the contemporary Chinese table tennis legend makes a comeback. He defeated the two most powerful opponents in the semifinals and finals, to take the sixth throne at the ITTF Finals.
Compared to the final of the men’s singles World Cup 2020 last week, Ma Long significantly improved his ability to defend in the far corner. He calmed down Chan Dong’s most powerful weapon – left kicks, sent the ball straight to the far corner. All five final sets were struggling, until Ma’s steady mentality was promoted.
Phan started the first set better, sometimes dropping three points away from his seniors, but the jerk of his left out cut the streak to his score. Ma Long returned, equalized 6-6, then 9-9. Even after being led 9-10, Ma calmly jerked back correctly, equalizing 10-10, before happily smiling at him because Chan Dong beat out.
Excitement helped Ma Long win the second set, with the score 11-7. The third set seemed to be in the pocket of the 32-year-old when he led 8-4, but the lack of focus caused him to be removed 8-8. When he could turn things around, Phan Chan Dong hit his net again. Although he struggled to score 10-10, he broke his own effort when two consecutive failed shots: one tuck, one went out, and lost all first three sets.
Before Hua Han in the semi-finals, Ma Long also showed a terrible performance as the final on November 22. After losing the first set, the player from Liaoning won all four remaining sets. Phan Chan Dong was not caught up in that spiral, and managed to win 11-9 in set four, but could not try to reach the fifth set.
Without time-out, like the World Cup men’s singles final, Ma Long balances his mentality and constantly forces his juniors to stay away from the table. The gap was maintained continuously by him at two points. At 10-8 point, Ma took over and immediately attacked. Phan only managed to catch the first kick, but couldn’t do anything when the seniors patted another corner of the table.
Winning after five sets, with the scores 13-11, 11-7, 12-10, 9-11, and 11-8, respectively, Ma Long cut the circuit of losing three matches against Phan Chan Dong. He also proved himself worthy of being one of two Chinese athletes attending the Tokyo Olympics next year.
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