He won the China Open at two different locations (beating Wang and then Xu Xin in the final), the Asian Championships (for the third time), and the China National Games in a full-stretch match against Fan Zhendong.However, Xu defeated him 4–3 at the end of the year at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals.Text is available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Although he performed well on the ITTF World Tour and in domestic competitions, Ma never made it to the final of the World Championships in his first four attempts.
The current Olympic and World Champion, he is ranked number 7 in the world (as of January 2018) by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).
He has held the ranking of number 1 for a total of 64 months (and 34 consecutive months from March 2015), the most by any male player. He won a record total of 5 straight ITTF World Tour tournaments in a row, including a streak of 35 sets.
Opponents are usually caught off guard when he suddenly loops with his backhand, which he can do near the table or away from it.
Compared to when he was younger, he is much more confident using his backhand to attack and defend.
As a result, he was not given an opportunity to win an Olympic medal in singles at the time when he was widely accepted as the best table tennis player in the world.