Macau, China, 11 Jan – World number one male table tennis player Ma Long from China defended his title at the seasonal final here on Sunday while his compatriot Guo Yan held on the champion in women’s singles either.
According to Xinhua News Agency it was the first time in the 14-year history of the ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) Pro Tour Grand Finals that both men’s and women’s singles titles were successfully defended at the same time.
Ma, 21, reinforced his leading position on the world rankings by a six-set win over younger team mate Xu Xin in a score of 11-9,7-11, 5-11, 11-3, 11-5 and 11-2.
“I am happy to win here again,” said Ma, trailing by 1-2 in sets before making a rally. “He put high pressure on me in the first three sets, but I finally broke away.”
Xu, upsetting veteran Wang Liqin, a former world number one, to reach the final, said he lost his own rhythm in the last three sets, thus was overwhelmed by Ma.
Guo Yan, ranked fourth, reined in her title with a tough fight and also some luck.
The 26-year-old Guo edged out her Beijing team mate Ding Ning in seven sets marking 3-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-4, 2-11, 13-11, 11-9.
I am a little bit lucky to win today,” said Guo. “The net and edge ball in the sixth set saved me from a match point, so I am sitting here as a winner thanks to some luck.”
Guo survived from the match point and won in 13-11, pushing the game to a final set.
However, the 19-year-old debutant had another good chance to be a double-title winner as she led with 9-7 before Guo scored four straight points to seal the gold.
“I was not strong enough in mind nor firm enough on strategy,” said Ding, who had already claimed the doubles title on Saturday.
It was the second seven-set match she had combated on Sunday.
Earlier in the semifinal, Ding beat Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, highest ranked player for non-Chinese at 6th, in a duel of breathtaking bout.