He sinks to his knees, throws the bat into the air, lets himself sink backwards and tears his arms up. In this sequence, all the pressure was gone. He has done it: Ma Long is and remains the best table tennis player on the planet. The 28-year-old defended his world title spectated by 8000 people in the sold-out exhibition hall Düsseldorf. In the finals, he won against his countryman Fan Zhendong in thrilling seven sets. A more worthy final of the LIEBHERR World Champs 2017 in Düsseldorf could not have existed. Fantastic ball changes, incredible pace and surprising twists had the final game to offer - and a final phase that electrified the audience. Fan Zhendong led 6:3 in the decision-making rate, the title was very close at 9:9. But Ma Long used his second matchball at 12:10. The old and new world champion, who had defeated Timo Boll in the quarter final the previous day, defended his triumph of Suzhou 2015.
Ma Long: "The craziest game I've ever seen"
"This is probably the craziest game I have ever experienced. I am very happy but also very tired. Of course this time luck was on my side. I'm sorry for Fan Zhendong, but I believe he'll be the future, "Ma Long also addressed the loser. In the future, the world champion said: "The way to the Olympic Games in Tokyo is still long for me. I will go the way step by step. Here in Dusseldorf the Chinese national team is so strong, because we have appeared as a team. We have a tremendous team spirit. We had nothing to hide from each other because we traditionally work closely together."
Fan Zhendong: "Little things decided the match"
Vice World Champion Fan Zhendong, World Cup winner of Saarbrücken in 2016, had made a 3-1 set-up in the final and ended up winning the second big single title on the racket. But Ma Long, who was named by a german newspaper as "human extraterrestrial", had something against it. "We have played on a high level. Congratulations to Ma Long. We both delivered a great performance. Little things have made the difference. What exactly is hard to describe. I will work on details and do something for my speed, because I was not always fast enough,"the 20-year-old Fan Zhendong said.
"Ma Long has earned it both humanly and sportily," Timo Boll had said about his double partner at this WTTC already on Sunday after the quarter-final defeat. After the final, the record European champion commented via Facebook: "Big final, congratulations to Ma Long.
In the semifinals of the morning, Ma Long (against Landsmann Xu Xin) and Fan Zhendong (against Korea's Lee Sangsu) had a clear victory.