04 Mar 2020

Shining lights for the sport, in 2019 Japan’s Miyu Nagasaki and Lily Zhang from the United States lit the arenas around the globe with their uninhibited performances.

On Wednesday 4th March they met in the concluding preliminary round of the women’s singles event at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open in Doha; the verdict went in favour of Miyu Nagasaki (11-8, 11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 11-5).

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Notably last year Miyu Nagasaki was crowned both Asian and World junior champion, as well as notably maintaining a perfect record against China’s Zhu Yuling. She beat the player, who earlier this year won the Marvellous 12, in the opening round on the ITTF World Tour in both Japan and Sweden.

Similarly, at the Uncle Pop 2019 Women’s World Cup, Lily Zhang sensationally reached the semi-finals, before ending the year by being named the ITTF Star Awards Breakthrough player of the year and securing the women’s singles title at the United States Open.

In Doha, the contest between the two young ladies with bright smiles but slightly different in age, Miyu Nagasaki is 17 years old, Lily Zhang, 23 years of age, witnessed success for the younger protagonist.

Return of service

Both players excel in rallies, the striking feature about Miyu Nagasaki being her willingness to innovate on the return of service. The Chinese will tell you “today’s men’s technique is tomorrow’s women’s technique”.

It would seem the men’s technique arrived in Japan yesterday. Throughout the match she was prepared to move to her forehand and return in the so-called “banana” fashion; the forearm approaching the vertical, her relaxed wrist circumnavigating the ball. The ploy did not always work but it worked more often than not.

Painful for Lily Zhang (Photo: Hussein Sayed)


The key factor was she was prepared to make the move; such an action makes the opponent think, it adds to the pressure factor and it underlines the fact the player exercising the tactic, is in a positive frame of mind. Lily Zhang employed the same initiative but to a much lesser extent; overhaul the positive approach enabled Miyu Nagasaki to control the play.


Miyu Nagasaki won the first two games but then somewhat strangely lost the third; when the 11 point system replaced the 21 point method, many a detractor suggested that comebacks would be a thing of the past. Lily Zhang, by remaining calm and composed, threw that theory in the bin.

Appearing confident Miyu Nagasaki established a 5-1 lead, she was sailing fair a 3-0 games lead; Lily Zhang reduced the deficit to one point at 5-4, the Japanese camp called “time out”; Miyu Nagasaki won just two more points! Sometimes the best laid plans come to grief; that’s the fascination of sport.

A change in fortunes, it was not to be; focused in both the fourth and fifth games, once an advantage was seized, Miyu Nagasaki never let slip.

Now, in the opening round, Miyu Nagasaki confronts a well-known adversary; she meets colleague Miu Hirano, the no.10 seed.

World Tour 2020 Qatar Open Lily Zhang Miyu Nagasaki

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Day 4 - 2020 ITTF Qatar Open

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