• Kyodo

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Defending champion Miu Hirano was beaten by Liu Shiwen of China 4-0 in the singles semifinal and finished a disappointing fourth at the Women’s World Cup table tennis competition on Sunday.

Hirano, who at 16 years old became the first Japanese to win the World Cup last year in the absence of Chinese players, also lost to fifth seed Cheng I-ching of Taiwan 4-2 in the bronze-medal match between the two defeated semifinalists held at Pan Am Center.

In the semifinal game, Liu took advantage of Hirano’s slow reactions to prevail 11-5, 11-7, 11-1, 11-6 and set up an all-China final. The bronze-medal game was a repeat of last year’s final in Philadelphia, but this time it was Cheng who came out the winner.

Top seed Zhu Yuling edged Liu in the final 4-3 for her first World Cup title.

“I got clobbered in the semis. The victory was far beyond my reach and I lost without knowing what I was doing,” Hirano said.

“My game wasn’t bad (in the bronze-medal match) but I couldn’t pull through. The world level is improving so if I don’t up my game it’ll get more difficult to produce good results like before,” she said.

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