Ma Lin, one of the greatest table tennis players in recent history, has been quite consistent for the last 8 years, winning several tournaments. Currently, he is ranked number FOUR in table tennis by International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). He is also holding the rank of number one player in Asia and in his native land, China. In the last one year, he holds an incredible win average of 86.6%. However, Wang Liqin, his compatriot, is closely on the heels of Ma Lin with ranking points of 12,661 against Ma Lin’s 12,688 points. Wang Liqin went in to the final of the Men’s Singles event at the H.I.S. World Championships in Yokohama following a semi-final victory over Ma Lin in May 2009 in an epic struggle.
Ma Lin was born in the Shenyang Liaoning province in China on February 19, 1980. He started playing table tennis when he was jus six years old. At the age of 10, he managed to become a member of the provincial team. Four years later, in 1994, he was included in the Chinese national team. He was coached by Liu Guoliang, former World Champion. Guoliang saw the potential in the young boy and nurtured him.
Impeccable Records: Here is a peep-in at the outstanding record of Ma Lin. From February 2002 to April 2007, he has always been in the first 5 ranks in the world. He has been holding the first rank for 13 months in this period, while he was ranked second for 30 months.
Ma Lin won the World Cup for the first time in 2000. One of his major titles after that was the ITTF Pro Tour Singles Title in 2002. Later, he won a doubles title, partnering Chen Qi, in the Athens Olympic Games held in 2004. In 2006, he won the Singapore Open and Men’s World Cup. He was also the runner-up in 2006 Men’s World Championship.
When Ma Lin won the Liebherr Men’s World Cup in Paris on October 29, 2006, he became the only player in the world to have won it four times. He has won the Men’s World Cup in 2000, 2003, 2004, and 2006. No other player had won the World Cup for more than two times. He beat compatriot Wang Hao in a grueling seven-game battle in the 2006 finals. Ma Lin attributed his success to the training given by his coach, Liu Guoliang.
Ma Lin became the Olympic table tennis champion in the Men’s Singles event in the year 2008. MA overcame his compatriot Wang Hao in five games 11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7, and 11-9. The twelve month reign of Ma Lin came to an end in December 2008, when he was beaten at the semi-final stage of the Men’s Singles event at the Volkswagen Pro Grand Finals, the man who had captured the title in Beijing in December 2007 was beaten by Ma Long.
Style of Grip: Ma Lin uses the penhold style of grip. Players using the penhold style normally have a weak backhand. To compensate for this, Ma Lin has practiced and developed the reverse backhand, which is an innovative stroke. This stroke enables him to utilize the underside of the blade. He also plays the standard backhand push very well. Thus, Ma Lin is able to employ three types of strokes. This helps him in overcoming even the toughest opponents.
Coach’s Word of Advice: According to Ma Lin’s coach, Liu Guoliang, Ma Lin is better off playing the game at a fast pace than a slow one. Normally, he advised Ma Lin to be very aggressive in his 3rd ball attacks so that he could control the pace of the game. When the first few points are won with such a tactic, automatically Ma Lin would gain in confidence and play the balance games with the same smooth tempo. Liu feels that in analytical powers and in the ability to vary his playing tactics, Ma Lin has very few equals in the world. He always told Ma Lin that he has to fight to hold his world number one ranking, instead of playing safe. This expert guidance and coaching had made Ma Lin the top-ranking player in the world.