by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Just as less than one hour earlier Zhu Yuling had dominated the opening game against Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, Liu Shiwen did exactly the same; furthermore, she continued in the same authoritative mode in the next two, totally in control.
Precise serving, subtle variations, fast attacking play, creating angles from the backhand at breakneck speed has in the past year brought Miu Hirano a whole host of outstanding results. Liu Shiwen nullified the tactic, anticipation outstanding, the four times champion held the aces.
Outplayed in the third game, Miu Hirano responded in the fourth, she established a one point lead at 5-4 but then lost the next three points. She called “Time Out” but it was to prove no more than a token gesture; Liu Shiwen surrendered just one more point, the year long reign of Miu Hirano was at end.
Defeat for Miu Hirano but let us not forget she is only 17 years old; had it been any other player of such an age and the defending champion we would have been applauding her to the hilt.
In Markham, Miu Hirano was beaten by a player who gave a most professional performance. Notably, Liu Shiwen was the one member of the current Chinese elite group who had avoided Miu Hirano when, earlier in the year at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships in Wuxi, Miu Hirano had beaten Ding Ning, Zhu Yuling and Chen Meng to arrest the Women’s Singles title
Some six months later there was to be no such repeat. It was a comprehensive win for the second seed, the Chinese coaches and Liu Shiwen had done their home; furthermore, they had gained top marks.