by Ian Marshall, Editor
Liu Shiwen, the no.2 seed, beat Korea Republic’s Yang Haeun (11-3, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7), a player who had been required to compete in the two day qualification tournament; Ding Ning, the no.7 seed, ended the hopes of Japan’s Miu Hirano, the no.4 seed (11-6, 11-6, 11-2, 11-8).
The margin of victory reflected the superiority. Earlier in the tournament Yang Haeun had overcome Hina Hayata, the no.10 seed and fellow qualifier, Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut.
“Even though it’s an early match, I was prepared and was able to get into the rhythm of the match fast; this is my first time here in Australia, so I’m very happy to be here and I hope to play better and better in the upcoming matches.” Liu Shiwen
Facing Liu Shiwen it was a very different story but the same story. They have now met in world ranking events on nine occasions, Liu Shiwen has won all nine and all in straight games.
Meanwhile, for Ding Ning in opposition to Miu Hirano, it was their tenth meeting and of course there is one hiccup; the 2017 Asian Championships in the Chinese city of Wuxi. On that occasion, at the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event, Miu Hirano recovered from a two games to nil deficit in a best of five games encounter, to emerge successful. The contest is now part of folklore.
However, since that epic engagement, the reigning Olympic and World champion has set the record straight. Last year at the Liebherr World Championships and at the Seamaster ITTF World Tour China Open, as well as earlier this year at the Liebherr World Team Championships, Ding Ning prevailed.
“I played better than I expected in the match against Hirano. Next match against Kasumi Ishikawa, she’s a very strong opponent, so I think it’s going to be a very exciting match.” Ding Ning
At the semi-final stage in Geelong, Ding Ning faces Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, the top seed; Liu Shiwen meets compatriot and qualifier, He Zhuojia, the player against whom earlier this year she experienced a quarter-final defeat at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Hang Seng Hong Kong Open.
The matches will be staged later in the day in the evening session of play.