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WATCH: 2 Table Tennis Titleholders Have Epic, 766-Shot Rally

Li Jie, pictured in 2009, was one of two elite players in a rally that lasted more than 10 minutes at the Qatar Open table tennis tournament.
Daniel Maurer
Associated Press
Li Jie, pictured in 2009, was one of two elite players in a rally that lasted more than 10 minutes at the Qatar Open table tennis tournament.

Today, two table tennis pros met at the Qatar Open and ended up locked in a staggering 10-minute, 766-shot rally.

The International Table Tennis Federation, which runs the event, said in an Instagram video that it "has got to be the longest rally ever in modern table tennis history!"

Li Jie of the Netherlands and Hitomi Sato of Japan are both internationally ranked table tennis players known for their defensive skills. Li competed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Sato is a champion doubles player.

The score when Thursday's rally happened was 0-0.

Neither player "took the risk to attack first, resulting in an endless rally," the ITTF wrote.

The rally was interrupted not by a failure of focus or coordination, but by a stray ball from a neighboring match area. Under the ITTF rules, a rally may be stopped "because the conditions of play are disturbed in a way which could affect the outcome of the rally."

Presumably, another little white ball entering the players' field of vision could affect the outcome.

Li eventually ended up winning the match and moving on in the tournament, which has four more rounds.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rebecca Hersher (she/her) is a reporter on NPR's Science Desk, where she reports on outbreaks, natural disasters, and environmental and health research. Since coming to NPR in 2011, she has covered the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, embedded with the Afghan army after the American combat mission ended, and reported on floods and hurricanes in the U.S. She's also reported on research about puppies. Before her work on the Science Desk, she was a producer for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered in Los Angeles.

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