DUSSELDORF, GERMANY – Miu Hirano guaranteed the first medal for her country in 48 years in the women’s singles at the World Table Tennis Championships on Friday, beating Feng Tianwei of Singapore in straight games to reach the semifinals.
Up against the world No. 4 and London Games bronze medalist, an aggressive Hirano showed no nerves as the eighth-ranked teenager fired on all cylinders en route to a 12-5, 11-12, 18-16, 12-5 victory.
“I’m really happy but surprised, too,” the 17-year-old Hirano said after the match.
“I began to think about medals when I led, so I tried to get that off my head and concentrate on my game.”
“She changed her tactics (in the third game) and began to hit my forehands. That surprised me a bit and I fell behind, but I took a timeout to switch my mind and that worked.”
Hirano beat Xiao Maria of Spain in straight sets in her fourth round earlier in the day.
Toshiko Kowada was the last Japanese to win the women’s singles medal at the worlds in Munich in 1969.
World No. 6 Kasumi Ishikawa fell to China’s top-ranked Ding Ning 11-8, 11-2, 7-11, 11-8, 11-2 as she went out alongside Mima Ito and Miyu Kato.
In men’s singles, 13-year-old Tomokazu Harimoto reached the fourth round after beating Liao Cheng-ting of Taiwan 11-7, 12-10, 11-8, 12-10.