Ma Long of China celebrates during the men's singles quarterfinal match against Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany at the 2019 ITTF Men's World Cup in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan province, Nov. 30, 2019. (Xinhua/Wang Dongzhen)
CHENGDU, China, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- "Grand Slam" winner Ma Long found back his form here on Saturday after being sidelined for the past three months, beating German star paddler Dimitrij Ovtcharov with ease and reaching the semifinals of the ITTF men's World Cup.
Leading 2-1 on sets in the quarterfinal clash, Ma avoided a late setback after trailing 9-2 to Ovtcharov, managed to turn the table in the fourth set and never looked back. The 31-year-old second seed wrapped up the match 6-11, 11-9, 11-4, 13-11, 11-3.
"I'd expected a much tougher encounter with Ovtcharov since I've been in lack of regular training for the past months," said Ma.
The Olympic Games, World Championships and World Cup men's singles champion had been absent from the competitive court due to a knee injury before he played two doubles matches in the Team World Cup in Tokyo earlier this month.
"I think my table tennis was good," commented Ovtcharov in the post-match mixed zone. "I could have good opportunity to win three out of the first four sets, especially set four I was leading 9-2. Also, some unfortunate balls came to a situation that shouldn't happen."
"It would be another story if I got something to do on 3-1 firmly, but I didn't. That's why I lost the game," added the 2017 Cup winner and the China Open champion here in the same year.
Asked to evaluate his opponent Ma Long, Ovtcharov said: "He's just the top player of the world."
Having fought all the way out from the preliminary round, the group stage qualifier Ovtcharov ousted Sweden's Mattias Falck in the first round of the main draw earlier on Saturday afternoon.
Ma paved his way to face the German with a 4-2 victory over Frenchman Simon Gauzy, while his fellow Chinese and top seed Fan Zhendong played the only other European in the quarters, the 38-year-old German veteran Timo Boll.