by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Impressive, Cheng I-Ching repeated the form that she has displayed throughout the year; she now a much more complete player, the highs and lows have been replaced by consistency.
“I feel very happy having beaten Samara; she is an overall very strong player. Before the match I practised my serves and attack many times and I am happy that I was able to execute them in the match today.” Miu Hirano
It was the stability in her play that won the day, at the crucial stages she proved reliable, sure of her abilities, no hint of panic; Lily Zhang gave her best but Cheng I-Ching held the aces.
Similarly, at the vital stages of the contest, Miu Hirano, staying close the table throughout the duel, imposed her will on proceedings; the counter attacking skills and like Cheng I-Ching, the high level of consistency proved telling factors.
Notably for Cheng I-Ching and Lily Zhang it was the first time they had met on the international stage; for Miu Hirano and Elizabeta Samara it was the second.
“The key point was when I was trailing two games to one and in the fourth game I was leading 9-8. She is good but not unbeatable. I did not have much luck. I will now focus on the European Championships which is in a few days and I will take all the positives from here that I won in my group and played in the round of 16” Elizabeta Samara
Earlier this year they had confronted each other at the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Zagreb Open, Miu Hirano had won in seven games (11-5, 9-11, 13-11, 11-9, 8-11, 5-11, 11-4).
At the quarter-final stage, in the top half of the draw Feng Tianwei meets Sabine Winter, Miu Hirano opposes Sabine Winter; in the lower half Shen Yanfei confronts Tie Yana, Liu Jia plays Cheng I-Ching.