SINGAPORE — Chinese world champion and world number one Fan Zhendong cemented his position as the new top dog in his sport by beating legendary compatriot Ma Long 4-3 (11-6, 11-6, 5-11, 9-11 , 8-11, 11-8, 11-7) on Sunday March 20 to be crowned the first Grand Smash World Table Tennis (WTT) Champion in Men’s Singles.
In a thrilling finale to the US$2 million (Singaporean$2.71 million) inaugural event watched by nearly 2,000 fans in a packed OCBC Arena Hall 1, the finalists held nothing back despite the fact that It was all-China business on Sunday night.
In a rematch of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics final, Fan, 25, mocked his inferior 5-16 head-to-head record against Ma, coming out of the traps to take a 2- 0 with vicious backhand shots. to which the world number 2 had no answer.
But two-time Olympic singles champion Ma demonstrated why he is considered the greatest table tennis player of all time, as he found a way to impose his fearsome forehand and win the next three matches .
The 33-year-old looked set to win the game as he led 6-1 in game six, only for Fan to come back and take 10 of the next 12 points to force a decider.
Fan’s ability to drag opponents, even one as formidable as Ma, out of position was key as he was always in control in the decider to seal his place in tournament history and pocket the $100,000 winner’s check. US.
About Ma’s succession, a modest fan, who also won the men’s doubles with Wang Chuqin, said, “If people compare me to Ma Long, Zhang Jike and other outstanding athletes, then I have to do something. good thing.
“In competitive sport, people always like to compare themselves, but I think for athletes it is more meaningful to push themselves. I would be very happy if I could do that.
“I couldn’t achieve what I wanted at the Olympics, but I’m happy to overcome a difficult situation and win today.
“I also won the WTT Cup final here last year so it’s a happy hunting ground for me. I felt the boost from the passionate crowd again today and I looking forward to competing here again soon.”
A gracious Ma paid tribute to Fan and said it was natural for young players to emerge and take over.
“Fan Zhendong is very complete and stable at the moment. Everything indicates that he is the best player now. I also have things I can learn from him in order to challenge him,” he said.