Ma Lin wins French Open

Ma Lin completed the hat-trick of threes on the concluding day of play at the Liebherr French Open in Toulouse on Sunday 4th November 2007, when he beat Chinese national team compatriot, Wang Hao, in the Menís Singles final.

Earlier in the day Ma Lin and Wang Hao had won their third ITTF Pro Tour Menís Doubles title of the year and by beating Wang Nan, Zhang Yining won her third ITTF Pro Tour Womenís Singles title of the year.

Seeded one, Ma Lin overcame second seed Wang Hao in five games.

He won 8-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-8, 11-7.

A Return
It was to some extent a return to winning ways for Ma Lin.

Earlier in the year in February he had won the Menís Singles title at the Liebherr Qatar Open beating Wang Liqin in the final, whilst on 1st July 2007 at the Volkswagen Open China, he had secured top spot on the medal rostrum when, as he did in Toulouse, he beat Wang Hao to capture gold.

However, in September, seeded one, he was forced to withdraw from the individual events at the China Mobile Asian Championships in Yangzhou with a stomach injury and at the Liebherr Menís World Cup he was below his very best form.

He lost to Ryu Seung Min in the quarter-finals, the first time he had ever been beaten by the Korean in a World Ranking event.

Back to Form
At the Liebherr French Open he was back to form and in the final he beat the man in form.

September and October have been outstandingly good months for Wang Hao. He won the Menís Singles title at the China Mobile Asian Championships and he succeeded in Barcelona at the Liebherr Menís World Cup; the excellent performances duly took him to top spot on the ITTF Menís World Rankings.

Eighteenth Title
Including one victory in the ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals, it was Ma Linís eighteenth win on the ITTF Pro Tour since his first appearance in 1996 at the Yugoslav Open in Belgrade.

The win puts him clear of Vladimir Samsonov but he trails colleague Wang Liqin who has a grand total of twenty-three Menís Singles titles on the ITTF Pro Tour. Ma Lin is now in second place with Vladimir Samsonov, the owner of sixteen titles in third spot.

Meanwhile, in contests between the two players in World Ranking events, the balance is in favour of Ma Lin; he has won eight of the fourteen contests and in 2007 it is now advantage Ma Lin.

They have now met five times in the current year and Ma Lin is one ahead following his success in Toulouse.

Wang Hao prevailed when they met in the semi-final of the Menís Singles event at the Gorenje Slovenian Open and at the same stage at the Panasonic China Open.

However, in the semi-finals at the Liebherr World Championships in May in Zagreb it was Ma Lin who won and in the final at the Volkswagen Open China, he also won.

Third French Title
At the Liebherr French Open, he won again and in so doing collected his third gold medal at a French Open.

In Toulouse he grasped Menís Singles and Menís Doubles gold whilst eight years ago, in 1999, he won the Menís Doubles crown with Kong Linghui.

As they say, everything comes in threes.

Photo: Ma Lin, the Men's Singles champion in Toulouse

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