Table Tennis players Ranking
Anshan, Liaoning, China
|Right-handed, shakehand grip|
|Equipment(s)||dhs hurricane long 5, DHS Hurricane 3 NEO National (FH, Black), Tenergy 05 (BH, Red)|
|1.76 m (5'9")|
|Weight||70 kg (154 lbs)|
Ma Long (simplified Chinese: 马龙; traditional Chinese: 馬龍; pinyin: Mǎ Lóng; born 20 October 1988) is a Chinese male table tennis champion. As of March 2016, he is ranked number 1 in the world by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), which he has been for a total of 44 months, more than anybody else other than Wang Liqin (54 months). Ma was born in Anshan, Liaoning, China. He won a record 5 ITTF World Tour tournaments in a row, including a streak of 35 sets. Starting in December 2007, he has been in the top 5 in the ITTF World Ranking, and has been in the top 3 since September 2011. Since March 2015, he has been world #1.
Playing style and Career
Ma is arguably the best two-winged looper in table tennis history. His serves appear to be traditional pendulum serves, but are some of the most visually deceptive in the world. Ma's playing style is that of the modern strategy of close-range third ball play, as his range of attack is nearly unparalleled. At the beginning of his career, his play strategy was primarily forehand-oriented, dominating play with powerful forehand loops, only using his backhand for controlled returns and to set up the forehand. He still plays a forehand-oriented style, but his backhand has become more consistent and stable as his career has progressed. Ma uses his backhand mainly to aggressively block incoming loops, but will occasionally loop himself. Opponents are usually caught off guard when he suddenly loops with his backhand, which he can do near the table or away from it. Compared to when he was younger, he is much more confident using his backhand to attack and defend. He is also the most prominent employer of the chop block on the Chinese National Team, which he uses to counter slow loops with heavy side spin.
After winning both the Asian and World Junior Championships, Ma became the youngest world champion at 18 years old after he participated in the 2006 Bremen World Team Championship. Ma developed his foundations under the tutelage of Wang Hao and former Chinese National Team coach Ma Kai Xuan before studying under Qin Zhi Jian. Before turning 22, he had great success in singles, reaching the finals of 11 ITTF World Tour tournaments (winning 8). He won the Asian Cup and World Tour Grand Finals twice, and also made it to the final round of the Asian Championships two times (losing to Wang Hao in 2007 and winning in 2009). In addition, he played in the finals of the China National Games and All China Championships, losing both matches to Wang.
Despite being the #1 player in the world for much of 2010–2012 stretch he was not chosen to represent China at the 2012 Olympics due to his temporary dip in ratings following a 560-day win streak on the ITTF World Tour. He first lost to Lee Sang-su at the 2012 Korea Open, 4-1, and then was upset by Koki Niwa in six games at the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament. Players were selected based on the ITTF World rankings list. As a result, he was not given an opportunity to win an Olympic medal in singles at the time when he was widely accepted as the best table tennis player in the world.
Chinese National Team coach Liu Guoliang remarked that Ma had all the tools necessary to be the best, yet at major tournaments, he had so far lacked sufficient mental toughness to play to his full ability when under pressure. This was evident in his losses to Timo Boll and Vladimir Samsonov in the 2008 and 2009 World Cup semifinals as well as his defeats to Wang Hao (4-1, 4-2, 4-2) in the semifinals of three consecutive World Championships (2009, 2011, and 2013). Although he performed well on the ITTF World Tour and in domestic competitions, Ma never made it to the final of the World Championship in his first four attempts. This led to many believing he was inferior to compatriot Zhang Jike, who completed his Grand Slam in just over a year.
After his third defeat to Wang Hao at the WTTC in 2013, Ma had a successful year. He won the China Open at two different locations (beating Wang and then Xu Xin in the final), the Asian Championships (for the third time), and the China National Games in a full-stretch match against phenom Fan Zhendong. However, Xu defeated him 4-3 at the end of the year at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals.