Ma Long(R) of China celebrates after winning the men's singles final match against his compatriot Fan Zhendong at the 2017 World Table Tennis Championships in Dusseldorf, Germany, on June 5, 2017. (Xinhua/Luo Huanhuan)
DUSSELDORF, Germany, June 5 (Xinhua) -- World No. 1 Ma Long edged Chinese compatriot Fan Zhendon 4-3 in one of the most thrilling final to retain the men's singles title while Ding Ning won her first women's doubles trophy in her fifth attempts at the World Table Tennis Championships here on Monday.
Ma, also the Olympic champion in Rio, dropped the first game 11-7 but won three in a row for a 3-1 lead. The 20-year-old Fan, nine years Ma's junior, regained form and outplayed his rival 11-5, 11-7 to level the score at 3-3.
Fan, ranked second since November 2015, pulled ahead 2-0 in the deciding game before Ma made it 2-2.
Experience helped Ma force Fan into forehand errors and build a 6-3 lead. And Fan, who won just one of their previous 11 meetings, managed to equalize at 6-6 first and then 7-7.
Two backhand errors from Ma gave Fan a 9-7 lead, and once again, Ma fought back and made it 9-9. When Fan hit a forehand at the net, it was 10-9 in Ma's favor. Fan broke his teammate with a powerful long shot to pull it even.
Fan sent the ball out to give Ma an 11-10 advantage before Ma smashed a forehand hard and successfully and won the title at 12-10.
"It was the craziest game I have played," Ma told the audience. "I don't think I will ever play a game like this again. It was worth being remembered for the entire life."
"I think I have never played like this before. I feel very happy to win, feel I was a bit lucky this time, I feel sorry for Fan Zhendong, but the future belongs to him. Mentally I was not certain on how to prepare for the match, so I consulted (head coach) Liu Guoliang. I thank him for his guidance and tolerance. I would also like to especially thank Zhang Jike because of his achievements, I really look up to him and he is my role model, I have learned a lot from his game."
A disappointed Fan said, "We both played at a very high level today, I fought very hard. Maybe when I got the opportunity, I didn't grab it and made mistakes. I congratulate Ma Long, we both gave a wonderful performance today."
Ding Ning, who won her third singles title on Sunday, paired with world No. 2 Liu Shiwen to beat teammates Zhu Yuling and Chen Meng in another 7-game thriller.
Ding, who was four-time beaten finalist in the previous four World Championships, won by the smallest possible margin in the last frame 9-11, 11-8, 11-13, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9.
"Yes last four times I made it to the finals, but now that I have finally won, I thank Liu Shiwen as she gave me a lot of encouragement, so I am very very excited and happy," Ding said.