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Tokyo Olympics 2021 Table Tennis Final: Fan Zhendong vs Ma Long Head to Head Prediction

We are all set for an all-Chinese clash as World number 1 Fan Zhendong going head to head against 3rd-ranked Ma Long in the finals of the table tennis singles event at the Tokyo Olympics 2021. 

Fan Zhendong and Ma Long
Ma Long and Fan Zhendong. Image Credits - News.CN

Match Details: 

Men’s Singles Finals - Gold Medal Match
Date: 30th July
Time: 9 pm Japan Standard Time
Venue: Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium Table 1

Fan Zhendong vs Ma Long: Head-to-Head Record

Ma Long leads the head-to-head record 16-6 in singles matches against Fan Zhendong. 

The two Chinese legends met twice last year. Top-ranked Fan Zhendong beat Long 4-3 in the finals of the ITTF World Cup on November 15, 2020.  A week later, Ma Long got revenge and routed Zhendong 4-1 in the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals. 

Fan Zhendong vs Ma Long
Image Credits - Zhengguan News - Twitter

Fan Zhendong vs Ma Long: Key Insights

  • Both Fan Zhendong and Ma Long have won 7 games each in their respective semifinals. Zhendong edged past Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju in 1 hour and 25 minutes. Long too clinched a 7-game thriller against German Dimitrij Ovtcharov in 1 hour and 21 minutes.
  • Both Long and Zhendong lost their 4th and 6th games in their semis.
  • Ma Long won the Olympic Gold medal in singles in 2016. He will aim to win back-to-back medals.
  • Zhendong will look to take the gold medal in his maiden Olympics final.
  • Both Zhendong and Long are right-handers and use the shakehand grip style.

Zhendong started off slow against Taiwan’s Lin in the semis. The Chinese youngster lost the first game 6-11 against the leftie. However, he bounced back to take the next 2 games 11-9 and 14-12 respectively. 

The two players gave their all in the 15-minute 4th game. Yun-Ju, the World number 7 took it 15-13. Fan won the 5th game 11-9 but lost the next by a similar scoreline. However, the World number 1, Zhendong thrived under pressure in the decider claiming it 11-8 to enter the finals.

Fan Zhendong’s biggest strength is that he can finish off points quickly. The average rally length in his semi against Lin was just 5 shots. The top-ranked Chinese can also take at least 5 points continuously and grab the momentum.

Ma Long began well by taking the first 2 games 13-11 and 11-8 respectively. However, Dimitrij took the next 2 games 11-9 each to level the proceedings. 

The two players split the 5th and 6th games and forced a decider. The Chinese utilized his big-match experience to trounce the World number 12, 11-9 in the 7th game. Overall, Ma Long just won 1 more point (69) than Ovtcharov (68). 

Ovtcharov vs Ma Long Score
Image Credits - Sportskeeda - Twitter

Long, the defending champion will be concerned after throwing away a good start against Dimitrij Ovtcharov in the semis. Interestingly, the average shot rally was 5 shots similar to Zhendong’s match. But, it went up to 7 shots in the 7th game against the German. 

Ma Long’s uncanny ability to overcome deficits of 2-4 points will help him in the final against rival, Fan Zhendong. He can also grab 3-5 points in a row with his relentless attacking. 

But, when the World number 1 is in full flow, he never gives a lead to his opponents. Zhendong was trailing by 1-2 points against Lin in the semis due to occasional unforced errors. 

Expect Fan Zhendong to win his maiden Olympic gold medal and deny Ma Long a back-to-back double gold in singles. 

Prediction: Fan Zhendong to win in 6 games against Ma Long in the singles finals of Tokyo Olympics 2021.

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