By David Gold

ma long_Liebherr_Mens_World_Cup_01-10-12September 30 - Chinese table tennis star Ma Long, who won team gold at the London 2012 Olympics, has won his first World Cup title at the Echo Arena in Liverpool in the Liebherr Men's World Cup.

The favourite crushed Germany's Timo Boll in the final, completing an impressive turnaround after his shock 4-0 defeat to Chuang Chih-Yuan of Chinese Taipei in the group stage.

Long (pictured top) went on to beat Denmark's Michael Maze and fellow Chinese Xu Xin in the quarter and semi-finals without dropping a set to reach the final.

The 24-year-old was also helped by the fact that compatriot Zhang Jike, the reigning world champion and double gold medal winner from this summer's Olympics, was not present in Liverpool.

Boll was aiming for his third title, and having just won bronze at London 2012, was in good form.

He stormed through the tournament, winning every game and beating triple World Cup champion Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus 4-2 on the way to the final.

However, Long won their clash 11-4, 11-3, 11-8, 11-9, and said the defeat to Chih-Yuan sparked his good form.

"I feel very happy, it is not a very smooth tournament for me," Long said after his victory.

"I could have been eliminated from the tournament, so there is a lot to learn.

"I prepared more after the defeat [to Chih-Yuan].

"I played superbly after that.

"I believe after this trophy I am more confident of winning singles titles at the World Championships and even the Olympic Games."

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