World No. 2 Ma Long defeated Greece's Kalinikos Kreanga with a clean sweep, helping the Asian side to prevail 3-2 in first day's five-rubber event at the 2009 Europe-Asia all stars challenge Tuesday.
As the top paddler of the Asian team, Ma Long was not in his best physical condition after just pacing his club to clinch the trophy of Chinese professional league on Sunday. However, the 20-year-old managed to bring down Kreanga 11-8, 11-7, 11-8 in the best-of-five match, earning the equalizer for the Asian side.
"I was not in my best form due to recent intensive matches. But being in the Asian all-star team is an honor for me, and I had to try my best in the match," said Ma, who ousted the Greek to claim the bronze in their last encounter during the 2008 World Cup.
Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany, in replacement of his injured countryman Timo Boll, took the opening win for the European side. The world No. 14 shrugged off a 9-11 first set defeat and outgunned Hong Kong player Cheung Yuk 3-1, snatching three sets in a row by 11-3, 11-6 and 11-8.
Danish Michael Maze needed five sets to beat Chinese Taipei's Chuang Chih-yuan 8-11, 11-3, 11-8, 8-11 and 11-3, before Beijing Olympic champion Ma Lin nipped 6-ranked Vladimir of Belarus 11-7, 9-11, 13-11 and 11-4. Ma extended his wining streak against Samsonov to 5-0.
South Korean chopper Joo Se Hyuk outscored Swedish veteran Jorgen Persson 3-1 in the thrilling decider. Although conceding 6-11 in the first set, Joo sealed his victory by edging out the opponent 11-8, 15-13 and 11-8 in the following sets.
The 76,000-euro Europe-Asia all stars challenge is comprised of two legs events. After the two-day Asian event here in Beijing, the European event will be held from Nov. 10 to 11 in Istanbul, Turkey.
(Xinhua News Agency August 26, 2009)