DOHA: Reigning Olympic and world champion Ma Long overcame a long-lay off due to injury to win his fourth ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open title here on Sunday afternoon.
“I feel very happy to win again in Doha, but the most important thing is that I’ve regained my fitness,” Ma said after he beat No.2 seed Lin Gaoyuan 9-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-9, 11-9.
It was his first major success since August which will boost the 30-year-old ahead of next month’s World Championships in Budapest (Hungary) where he will join compatriots Fan Zhendong, Xu Xin, Lin and Liang Jingkun as China’s quintet in the men’s singles category.
The Worlds will be held from April 21-28.
The former world no.1 was a revelation after missing top international events due to knee injury. His campaign in the Qatari capital was that of a star, who was confident to rebuild his image and reputation as world’s most adorable paddler.
A niggling left knee injury since last August saw him withdrew from the ITTF World Tour Opens in Czech Republic, Sweden, Austria and 2018 World Cup.
“I’ve played in Qatar Open many times in the past. This time was special for me as I came here from a long lay-off to win a major title,” said Ma, who has won the 2013, 2016 and 2017 editions.
Wang wins women’s singles
Fourth seed Wang Manyu was in top form after she dethroned defending champion Liu Shiwen in the women’s singles final which was held after the men’s podium ceremony.
Wang, who won 11-3, 10-12, 12-10, 11-6, 5-11, 11-5, picked up her fifth ITTF World Tour singles title and added to already won in Austria (2017) followed by her triumphs in China, Hungary and Hong Kong last year.
(Pic: Mohammad Amin)