When Ma Long won the match point against Germany’s Dimitri Ovtcharov, China had once again become Men’s Teams Champions of the world. STIGA-contracted Xu Xin immediately walked in to the playing court to embrace Ma Long and to share the joy of being world champions. The other Chinese team members took it a little easier, waited and then marched in to the playing field.
Maybe Xu Xin ´s excitement was because he for the first time also contributed by winning one match in the finals. Before, when winning 2010 and 2012, Xu Xin did not get the trust to play in the top three team during the finals. He was instead benched.
This time he made an important contribution. After Ma Long had beaten Germany ´s Timo Boll with 11-6, 11-9, 11-9, Ovtcharov made his best performance in his career, taking down current World and Olympic Champion Zhang Jike in three straight games – 13-11, 11-8, 11-6. This was the first loss ever for Zhang Jike in a World Championships, winning 26 matches in a row before the defeat against Ovtcharov.
So when Xu Xin entered the court the standings was 1-1 and the match alive. But Xu Xin showed no remorse against Patrick Franziska, who in yesterday’s semifinal played well and defeated Japan ´s Kenta Matsudaira, who reached the quarter finals at the last individual World Championships. Xu Xin seemed even more focused because of the stressing situation and never gave the German a chance, winning the first game at 5, the second at 2, and the third at 8. Only losing 15 points altogether.
Xu Xin was superior in everything, receiving well short, attacking safely on the half long services from Franziska, and then followed up by putting immense force in his forehand loop attacks.
After winning the match point Xu Xin pointed at his back, a gesture that he later on the press conference had to explain: "I just wanted to point out that I am the number one on the World ranking. And in this World Championship I did not lose, so I kept my level and my position. Last time I played a World Championship I was also ranked number one. That time in Paris 2013, I lost to Zhang Jike."
Another question to Xu Xin was who he thought was the hero of the Chinese team this time.
"I can say like this, we all can learn from Ma Long. But this is the Team Championships and China is a team where no player is more important than another. This time Zhang jike lost one match, I might lose in the future. We keep on supporting each other to improve ourselves and to keep winning also upcoming World Championships."
Also STIGA player Fan Zhendong got a gold medal around his neck, only 17 years old and the youngest Chinese male player ever to become World Champion. Fan Zhendong also became the first World Champion from the Guangdong province since the legendary Jiang Jialiang in the 80s. Fan was of course happy after the finals, but also appointed the fact that he was out of the top three in the team most of the matches.
"I am aiming to be top three next time so I am picked not only for the team but also for the three who plays the important matches."
During the World Team Championships in Japan STIGA had the great pleasure of conducting an interview with the current number one Xu Xin:
What is your recipe for success? Which of your skills are the reason that you are the number one and no one else?
I work hard everyday and I may be a little bit gifted by natural. I always have an eager to win. My forehand and steps could also be an advantage.
At what age did you start playing table tennis and how often did you exercise as a kid?
I’ve played since I was 6. It began as once every day and lasted around 2-3 hours.
And how often and how long do you exercise now? How long do you exercise backhand techniques compared to your forehand?
Twice every day. 150 minutes by each time. The backhand training took 30% and the forehand training took 70% among all. And now they are taken half and half.
What kind of exercise is best to improve footwork and physical condition?
As is for me, the large range of run under multi-ball is the best for the footwork, and strength training is suggested for physical training.
Why are Chinese players so much better than European players? Do they use a different technique? Where are the differences?
I think it’s thanks to several aspects. We have tough training and strong opponent during the training. Besides, we have a very high-leveled coach team. They support us by specified technique analysis.
Are you happy with the Chinese dominance in table tennis? Or would you prefer a more balanced situation?
I’m very happy with the strength of China. At the same time, I wish more national teams become as strong as the China team. It should be the trend of the table tennis development.
What is your opinion on the new plastic ball? Is it beneficial for you as a penholder player?
I don’t know the new plastic ball quite well, so I can’t see any influence or benefit by now.
Has anyone ever tried to transform you into a shakehand player? And do you like to encourage more players to play with penholder style?
No one so far. Of course, I hope more players will choose penholder style.
Which blade do you use at the moment?
I use the STIGA Intensity NCT penholder.
Do the members of the national team get along well with each other or does anyone do his own thing? Do you also spend your spare time with a certain player of the national team?
We usually hang out together. Sometimes I stay with myself also.
What are you doing in your spare time, when you are not playing table tennis?
Listen to music, watch movie, and play pool.
Who is the most important person for you – concerning table tennis? And why?
Cao Yanhua, since she brought me into the table tennis career.
Who is your strongest opponent and why?
Boll and Ovtcharov.
Is there a possibility, perhaps a post office box, to send you fan-letters?