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Ma Long beats Fan Zhendong to win men's singles at Chinese National Games | Updated: 2017-09-07 10:25

Ma Long beats Fan Zhendong to win men's singles at Chinese National Games

Ma Long lies on the ground to celebrate his win during the men's table tennis singles final against Fan Zhendong at 13th Chinese National Games in North China's Tianjin municipality, Sept 6, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

TIANJIN - Table tennis world No 1 Ma Long successfully defended his singles title at the Chinese National Games on Wednesday, by beating the same opponent Fan Zhendong at last edition's final and also at the World Championships final.

Ma, the reigning Olympic and world champion, extended his dominance in the sport by winning almost all the tournaments he had participated during the last four years.

Facing the same player, whom he needed a seven-game showdown to overcome at the World Championships final in Duesseldorf of Germany in April, Ma outplayed world No 2 Fan a little bit easier this time in six games, 11-8, 8-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6 and 11-9.

The 29-year-old Ma lost to Fan 3-0 on aggregate in the team's group competition, but he staged an entirely different performance in the singles final despite injuries on his hip joint and wrist, partly due to his schedule with less matches than Fan.

Fan had been lined up to play all four events, including singles, doubles, mixed and team, in all of which he reached deep.

In the team competition, Fan's team of PLA won the bronze, and he finished with a silver in doubles pairing with Ma and another bronze in mixed doubles.

Ma revealed his emotions for playing against Fan, 20, who's widely believed to be the next ruling player. "It's a game of stamina and tactics playing against Fan every time. You can never over prepare yourself if your opponent is Fan, so I had to give up my noon nap today for I could not help thinking a lot on how can I defeat him," said Ma.

"For me, I cherish my games here for I don't have quite a lot of matches like this to play in my age and I'm so eager to win when I was included in the National Games."

Ma said he was more nervous playing the National Games than the World Championships. "I was even more nervous to play here than the World Championships. We got a tense schedule and it's more demanding physically here," said Ma.

"Actually, this Games lacked those conspicuous and long rallies like the worlds for we were not physically good enough for too many matches in the few days, but we did try to outmaneuver each other in our match-up. It's not just a match of skills, but also a game of minds," added Ma.


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