By Neha Aggarwal
It’s certainly not just another event. China’s greatest players of the recent times have been shown the doors, on their home soil. After the shocking exit of Ma Long in the men’s singles round of 32, it was the 2016 Olympic Champion Ding Ning who had never fathomed that she would be the next prey.
Not even as the match started. She took an impressive 2-0 lead in a match that was to be decided in the best of five games. She needed one more game to move smoothly to the last four. However, the youngest Women’s World Cup champion, Japan’s Miu Hirano was determined. She has always been conditioned to fight till the last breath, and today is no special day. The birthday girl carried all her charm with her.
Losing the first game 3-11,Hirano lost the second too as she lost the initial lead and went trailing 0-5. Eventually after giving up the second game 12-14, Hirano was transformed into a different self. Her forehand topspins down the line to Ding Ning’s forehand proved to be effective. She came back in the match winning the third game 11-9 and saved five match points in the fourth game to win it in a marathon 16-14 contest.
The deciding game was such that the audience held their breath more than the players did. Hirano led 10-8, but Ding Ning leveled it at 10-10. But today, the birthday girl got it all right. She finally won on the third match point, 12-10, thus shocking the entire country of China.
Miu Hirano won 3-11, 12-14, 11-9, 16-14, 12-10.
“Competing with such a high level player like Ding Ning, especially while, 0-2 down and 5-9 behind in the third game, I feel I had to give my best fight and wasn’t thinking too much at that point,” said Miu Hirano , as she kept jumping in joy.
So what was it that was so special today?
“My overall level have improved a lot recently, I just try to play my best form on court. Last year on my birthday, Mima Ito beat Ding Ning at the Olympic Qualifications as well, so I think my birthday is rather special. It’s a very memorable birthday for me today.”-Miu Hirano
The 17-year old has renewed confidence in the championship and undoubtedly, she is looking to clinch the gold as she crossed the biggest hurdle on her way today. “Initially my goal was just to try and win this match against Ding Ning, but now that I have done that, I hope to aim for the Gold medal.”
Miu Hirano will now play the other Chinese Zhu Yuling in the semi finals as she beat teammate Wu Yang in a rather comfortable 3-0 match. Zhu Yuling will be alert. She has all evening to prepare for the semi finals tomorrow.
“I hope my good form will continue into the World Championships.”- Miu Hirano
In the lower half, Singapore’s Feng Tianwei had no answers to Chen Meng’s thunderous attacks. Chen Meng wrapped up the match in a quick 3-0 (11-7, 11-2, 11-8) victory.
It was also a fine day for Liu Shiwen as she thrashed KoreaDPR ‘s Choe Hyon Hwa in straight games 11-4, 11-4, 11-5 to move to the semi finals.