by Simon Daish
Both of last year’s finalists will compete on the concluding day of play with Miu Hirano and Cheng I-Ching successfully negotiating their respective quarter-finals encounters.
Defending champion Miu Hirano enjoyed a straightforward day in Markham, dropping just the one game across both of her matches.
The 17-year-old from Japan accounted for the experienced Swedish player Matilda Ekholm in the Round of 16 (5-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-4, 11-2) and Miu Hirano continued to impress as the day progressed, claiming a straight games victory in her quarter-finals duel with Chen Szu-Yu (11-7, 11-6, 11-6, 11-8) to keep her title defence campaign on track.
Cheng I-Ching began the day with an early scare as the fifth seed was pushed right down to the wire in her opening fixture against Hungary’s Georgina Pota (7-11, 7-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-4).
However, the Chinese Taipei competitor looked slightly more comfortable in the evening session, emerging triumphant over the 13th seeded Hong Kong representative Lee Ho Ching (6-11, 13-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-5) who was responsible for the shock exit of third seed Kasumi Ishikawa in the previous round.
Liu Shiwen remains in the hunt to secure a fifth title at the competition after the second seeded contestant booked her spot in the semi-finals with a strong display on Day Two.
First up the Chinese star came out on top against the 2017 ITTF-Africa Cup champion Dina Meshref (11-5, 11-6, 11-6, 11-2) to move through to the last eight where she overcame the challenge of Romania’s Elizabeta Samara in style (11-4, 11-6, 11-7, 11-4).
The other player who will appear in the semi-finals lineup is top seed Zhu Yuling, who is in search of her first Women’s World Cup trophy.
Two years ago, at the 2015 edition of the tournament, Zhu Yuling suffered a quarter-finals exit but now making her second appearance at the event the world no.2 has surpassed that result in Markham following back-to-back victories against the host nation’s Zhang Mo (6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 14-12, 11-2) and Li Jie of the Netherlands (11-3, 6-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-5).