Liam Pitchford was defeated by Ma Long at the WTT Champions Macao, after going toe-to-toe with the great champion for two games.

Pitchford led the first 8-5, some of his trademark backhand winners punctuating the game, but saw the Chinese superstar take five points in a row.

Pitchford saved the first game point to take it to deuce, but Ma Long brought up another and this time managed to get the first game on the board.

Pitchford opened up a 4-0 and 6-1 lead in the second, and although Ma closed to 6-5, the Englishman stayed in front and took his first game point at 10-8.

The match turned on a strange incident in the third when, with the score at 4-3 to Ma Long, Pitchford appeared to win the point via a net and an edge. Ma claimed the ball had hit Pitchford’s shirt, and Pitchford acknowledged, switching the score from 4-4 to 5-3.

Replays suggested – quite clearly – that the ball had not touched the shirt, though of course that is academic as the players agreed it had.

It made a big difference as Ma Long stretched out to 10-4 and won the game 11-6 – via one incredible 30-shot rally at 7-4 when Pitchford landed a series of increasingly implausible lobs before eventually losing the point.

The fourth saw Pitchford take his timeout at 0-3 and then close to 2-3, but it was a false dawn as Ma Long continued to up his game and take it 11-4.


Men’s Singles
Round of 16

Ma Long (CHN) bt Liam Pitchford 3-1 (12-10, 8-11, 11-6, 11-4)