Ma Long of China hits a return during the men's singles quarterfinal match between Ma Long of China and Mattias Falck of Sweden at 2020 ITTF finals in Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province, Nov. 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Jianan)
ZHENGZHOU, China, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- World No. 1 Fan Zhendong and Grand Slam winner Ma Long booked their men's singles semifinal berths at the ITTF Finals here on Friday.
Fan won the first three games at 11-6, 13-11, 11-7 over Hugo Calderano. The Brazilian regrouped afterward to pull one game back at 11-9, but top-seeded Fan sealed his win by taking the fifth game 11-9.
"My opponent showed his character today, and I was not totally accustomed to it. The second game was important to my victory," Fan noted.
"He had some excellent shots, but I was confident that I could make the most of his unforced errors to pull it back," he added.
In a repeat of last year's World Championships final, Ma built a 7-1 advantage over Mattias Falck of Sweden en route to an 11-5 first game victory. Then Falck regained momentum and won 11-7, 11-5 in the next two games.
Ma leveled the match at 2-2 overall and led 10-4 in the fifth game. Falck displayed his fortitude and saved five game points, but Ma managed to escape from it with 11-9. In another roller-coaster sixth game, Ma saw three match points slip away while securing a spot in the final four at 13-11.
"Before the match, I had expected it to be a tough one. Although I won last year's World Championships final, I thought he made the match quite difficult," Ma commented.
"When I was 2-1 down today, I made some adjustments mentally and calmed down, also changing my serves and returns that functioned well," he added. Enditem