The last time Japan ever won a medal in the Women’s Singles event was back in 1969 when Toshiko KOWADA won gold and Miho HAMADA won the bronze in Munich, Germany.
In the rematch of their semifinals encounter at the Women’s World Cup last year, HIRANO was fearless against world number four FENG Tianwei (SGP), attacking aggressively on the table. Despite FENG pushing HIRANO to the full limit in the third game 16-18, the 2010 World Team Champion was had no solutions to the 17-year-old’s fast attacks, losing In four straight games (5-11, 2-11, 16-18, 5-11).
HIRANO is no stranger to breaking records & making history, becoming the youngest ever World Cup Champion in 2016, youngest ever Japan Champion in 2017, and youngest ever Asian Champion just last month at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships. The young Japanese sensation was also named the Breakthrough Star of the year at the 2016 ITTF Star Awards.
HIRANO, who has been dubbed “Hurricane HIRANO” after she upset three top ranked Chinese players including World & Olympic Champion DING Ning to take the Asian Championships crown, is clear of her aim to take the World Championships by storm this time.
“After my win (at the Asian Championships), I have more self confidence, I don’t have any fear before a match. I always enter a match to win,” stated HIRANO. “I want to win the title here in Düsseldorf.”
After understanding that she has made history for Japan by securing her Singles medal, HIRANO added, “I did not know that it has been so long that Japan had won a medal, I am a bit surprised. I am happy to have this record, and that this will be in the history books.”
With her victory to reach the semifinals, HIRANO will face world number one DING, who eliminated HIRANO’s teammate Kasumi ISHIKAWA, to set up a rematch of their last encounter at the Asian Championships.
Drama continued later today, with two-time World Champion ZHANG Jike (CHN) crashed out of the men’s singles in the Round of 32.
The Grand Slam Champion and world number four was defeated by Korea Republic’s LEE Sangsu 4-1 (11-9, 111-6, 11-13, 11-6, 12-10) to devastate his thousands of fans who have travelled to Germany to watch their hero.
“Zhang Jike’s level has dropped lately. But I still had to play very well to win. If I played my best I knew I had a chance win,” stated LEE after his sensation win.
ZHANG reflected “My opponent was very aggressive while I was a bit slow and my mental game was not very good. It was hard to find a loophole. If I won the fifth round I would have had a chance, but I was rather passive in this match. My preparation was the same as before and I’ve played him many times before. The quality of his shots were more fierce today, and mine were relatively poor. The mental aspect played a bigger role than the technical in my match today. My injury earlier in the year had no impact.”
More thrilling table tennis action continue tomorrow with the Mixed Doubles World Champions bring determined, as well as the Women’s Singles & Men’s Doubles Semifinals.
Fans can watch all of tomorrow’s action from 10:00 local time (GMT+2), live on ITTF online streaming platform itTV: tv.ITTF.com