Table Tennis Players Who Are One Step Away from The Grand Slam

Since 1986, when table tennis officially became an Olympic sport, the Grand Slam has become the benchmark that defines the honor of a table tennis player’s career, i.e., winning three major tournaments, namely the World Cup, the Olympics and the World Series.

WaldnerLiu GuoliangKong LinghuiZhang Jike and Ma Long for men and Deng YapingWang NanZhang YiningLi Xiaoxia and Ding Ning for women have accomplished this.

However, the glory created by competitive sports is often accompanied by the despair of many other athletes, who seem to be within reach of the “Grand Slam” and return in defeat, leaving only a regretful and legendary story in the world of Ping.


Gatien is the benchmark figure in the European ping pong world where the “arcing” style of play is the mainstream of the world, with great power, strong spin, and a fierce style of play with a fast arcing forehand as the core.

In the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Gatien gave full play to his characteristics of being tall and long, and daring to attack all the way to the final, beating Yoo Nam-Kyu, who had won the men’s singles championship in the 1988 Olympics, and Ma Wenge, the absolute main force of Ping Pong at that time.

In the final, facing Waldner’s flexible and versatile style of play, known as “guerrilla captain”, Gatien appeared inexperienced and lost 0-3 to his opponent, finishing second.

However, after the match, Waldner boldly predicted that Gatien’s fierce style of play would dominate the future of the game, and indeed Gatien became the closest European player to the Grand Slam by winning the World Cup and World Cup in 1993 and 1994 respectively.

However, Gatien did not continue his glory, and his fierce and lack of finesse was not enough to support his breakthrough in the Olympic Games. After winning third place in men’s doubles with his teammates in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Gatien gradually faded away from the world of ping, and officially retired in 2003, thus sealing his dream of “Grand Slam”.


Jörgen Persson

Jörgen Persson and Waldner were the core starters of the Swedish team back then, and the fact that the two and their national teammates played against the main players of the national team in the 1990s is still a stirring legend.

For Persson himself, he is also just one Olympic gold medal away from the Grand Slam.

He had won the World Series and World Cup in 1991 with his serve and receive variations, excellent forehand and backhand swing speed, fast-paced attack and strong spin ability on the far side of the table, and had a brilliant record.

In 2008, the 42-year-old Persson miraculously defeated Vladimir Samsonov to reach the top 4, while the national team, which had lost the men’s singles title at the Athens Olympics, was trying to keep the championship at home, facing Wang HaoWang Liqin and Ma Lin, Persson was unable to fight from the technical and physical level.

At the 2012 London Olympics, Persson’s dream of winning the Grand Slam came to a halt when he was stopped in the second round of the men’s singles competition. Although he did not achieve the greatest honor of his career, but later Persson transformed into a coach, also cultivated and discovered a number of good players in Mattias Falck and Truls Möregårdh, and contributed to Sweden to regain the glory of the past years.


Wang Hao

Wang Hao, the master of the “straight board horizontal play” technique, developed and formed a system of “screwing”, “horizontal play”, “counter-pull” and “defense” on the backhand, the weakest part of the straight board, based on the experience of his predecessors. He also strengthened the forehand under the concept of “the one who gets the forehand gets the world”, and formed the technical style of “no weak forehand, super strong backhand”. The technical style of “no weak forehand, super strong backhand”.

However, three Olympic final losses shattered Wang Hao’s dream of “Grand Slam”, and the three Olympic trips also summarized his career in three stages: the Athens Olympics, which represented the first stage of Wang Hao’s career, when the 21-year-old Wang Hao was full of impetus and lacked experience in using his backhand technique, and after defeating Wang Liqin in the semi-finals, he faced the crazy backhand of Liu Chengmin in the final. After defeating Wang Liqin in the semi-final, Wang Hao was lost in the final match in the face of Liu Chengmin’s crazy counterattack and the sound of cheering, and his famous backhand straight racket was only used as a transitional technique, lacking in power, and was frequently caught by his opponents, eventually losing the gold.

In the second stage of Beijing Olympic Games cycle, Wang Hao, after experiencing the World Cup and the World Ping Championship, was skilled in backhand technique and reached the realm of attacking and defending as one. 

With the rise of youngsters such as Zhang Jike and Ma Long, the increasingly older Ma Lin and Wang Liqin gradually withdrew from the Olympic field.

Wang Hao, on the other hand, is still at the top of his game with his advanced straight backhand cross-court technique, and he even won the World Series and National Games in 2009.

“But two years later, Wang Hao’s “bitter rival” Zhang Jike became an obstacle to his dream of “Grand Slam”, and Zhang Jike won the World Championship in Rotterdam, signaling the rise of the new king. In the London Olympic Games, Zhang Jike was injected with a closed needle due to his injury, and he fought against the tide with his powerful king’s screw and high-quality arc ball.

Although Wang Hao did not win the highest honor of “Grand Slam” in his career, his contribution to the straight board technology, 18 world championship titles and stability in foreign battles are enough to make him famous in the world of ping.

Ma Lin

Ma Lin is a master of the traditional straight-board style of play, with strong control, good touch and delicate first three boards, often able to control the opponent with serve, receive and flexible rhythm, thus creating offensive opportunities.

Ma Lin has won four World Cup titles and the Beijing Olympic Games men’s singles title, and is only one World Series title away from becoming a Grand Slam.

In 1999, Ma Lin lost to peak Liu Guoliang after beating Waldner.

In 2003, he lost in the semi-finals to Joo Sae-hyuk.

In 2005 and 2007, Ma Lin was defeated by Wang Liqin in the finals of the World Series, and in 2009, Wang Liqin kept him out of the finals, especially in 2007, when Ma Lin was one step away from the men’s singles in the World Series, and in a 3-1 victory, his mind was in a state of flux, and the tenacious Wang Liqin caught him to tie the score and finally reverse the game. As he grew older, Ma Lin was defeated by Ma Long and Kenta Matsudaira in the subsequent World Series, and did not hold the St. Bride’s Cup until he retired.

2015 World Series, Liu Guoliang, then head coach of the men’s team, awarded the trophy to Ma Lin before the final of the men’s singles, which was also considered to be Ma Lin’s “Grand Slam dream”. “The team’s head coach, Liu Guoliang, gave the trophy to Ma Lin before the men’s singles final in 2015.

Liu Shiwen

Liu Shiwen is a fast player, with a fast and balanced forehand and backhand, able to move her opponent through speed and drop point changes.

As for Liu Shiwen’s career, it is really hard to be satisfied: she became famous at a young age, became the World Cup champion in 2009, and was regarded as the future star of hope

In 2010, she lost two points in the final of the team competition at the World Cup in Moscow and retired from the tournament; she hit the Olympic singles arena twice, but lacked the championship; she has been sharpening her sword for ten years at the World Cup.

In 2019 Budapest dream women’s singles champion, the same year and become the World Cup “five champions”, all for the impact of the Olympic Games to increase the weight of the Tokyo Olympics, it seems that the “Grand Slam” dream is getting closer; but the outbreak of the epidemic delayed the Olympic schedule, age, injury plague for The coaching team eventually considered letting her focus on mixed doubles and give up singles.

Liu Shiwen

In the early stage of her career, Liu Shiwen has been a mainstay of Zhang Yining and Guo Yue, while she has competitors such as Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia in the same generation.

She also had to face the new generation such as Wang Manyu and Sun Yingsha, but she grabbed every opportunity and her will was not destroyed by bad luck and injuries, instead she faced every setback with a smile and became more and more brave.

I hope that at the end of her career, Liu Shiwen will enjoy the joy of ping pong.

Although the “Grand Slam” can show the brilliance of athletes’ achievements, resilience in the face of difficulties, injuries and illnesses, maintaining love and a sense of national honor that can highlight the athletic spirit of athletes. Because some greatnesses do not need “Grand Slam” to be defined.

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