Ma Long completes hat-trick of world singles titles as China complete clean sweep
Ma Long has done it again.
The reigning Olympic table tennis men's singles champion beat Mattias Falck 4-1 in Budapest to claim his third consecutive world singles title and his 12th world crown in all.
It was his second gold at these ITTF World Championships, having won the men's doubles with Buenos Aires YOG gold medallist Wang Chuqin.
It completes a remarkable comeback from Ma who returned to action with victory at March's Qatar Open after seven months out with a knee injury.
"I think I will have a special celebration but right now I just want to enjoy this moment." - Ma Long speaking to the crowd after winning his singles gold at the 2019 World Championships
China completed a clean sweep of titles in the Hungarian capital as Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu came from two games down to beat Japan's Hina Hayata and Mima Ito 4-2 in the women's doubles final shortly after Ma's success.
Ma Long World Champs exclusive: "I'm confident that I will compete"
Ma Long World Champs exclusive: "I'm confident that I will compete"The three-time Olympic gold medallist tells Olympic Channel he'll be fully recovered in time for April's World Championships in Budapest.
WATCH: Behind the scenes at “One of the toughest tournaments in the world”
WATCH: Behind the scenes at “One of the toughest tournaments in the world”China produces the world’s best table tennis players. How did they perform under pressure at the Marvellous 12 competition, the national World Championships qualifier? Olympic Channel were given exclusive access to the event.
Another Ma masterclass
Ma had made serene progress through to the final, dropping no more than one game in each of his six previous matches in Budapest.
His opponent was something of a surprise with Falck Sweden's first finalist since Barcelona 1992 Olympic champion Jan-Ove Waldner took his second world title in 1997.
Ma was a warm favourite to join fellow Chinese Zhuang Zedong (1961, 1963, 1965) as the only man to win three consecutive singles titles in its current format.
And he started strongly, winning the opening game 11-5 before taking the second 11-7.
Falck fought back bravely, going into a 9-2 lead in the third game before taking it 11-7.
The 16th seed held a useful advantage in the fourth game, but Ma produced the goods just when he needed it to take it 11-9.
There was only one winner from there as Ma eased to victory 4-1 (11-5, 11-7, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5) and yet another global crown in his illustrious career.
"Thank you all for supporting me, not only the Chinese fans but also the foreign fans. Not only did I want to win this title, but I also wanted to gain your respect." - Ma Long to the crowd after his third consecutive singles world title
More history in sight
Ma was close to untouchable all week.
The 30-year-old dropped just five games in seven matches in the strongest field of the year, and his hunger for success appears as strong as ever.
And his rivals will have to step up considerably to stop 'The Dictator' retaining his Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.
China are overwhelming favourites to make it four men's team triumphs out of four in Japan, so another singles title would surely take Ma to an historic five Olympic golds.
Why China's dominance in table tennis is unmatched at the Olympics
Sun and Wang secure China sweep
Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu won the final event of these World Championships, the women's doubles.
They had to do it the hard way after dropping the opening two games to Hina Hayata and Mima Ito.
The Japanese pair took the first game 11-8 before racing through the second 11-3.
But their level dropped and Sun and Wang hit back to win the third 11-8 and the fourth 11-3.
At 9-9 in the fifth game, officials called a let service which was disputed by Hayata and Ito who thought they had won the point.
The aggrieved duo opted to take a time out, but their Chinese opponents took the game 12-10 and, with it, the lead for the first time.
They went on to claim the match 4-2 (8-11, 3-11, 11-8, 11-3, 12-10, 11-8) to ensure China leave the Worlds with all five gold medals on offer.
It's China's first World Championship clean sweep since 2011, and their ninth in total.