Wildcard Lily Zhang sends former World Cup winner Hirano packing

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-19 16:01:01|Editor: mingmei
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CHENGDU, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- Former Asian champion Miu Hirano suffered an early exit at the ITTF Women's World Cup here on Saturday, losing 4-3 to the wildcard entry from the United States Lily Zhang at the round of 16 play.

The 2016 Cup title holder and 2017 Asian Championships' surprising winner came back from two sets down to turn over the table 3-2 before the 23-year-old American forced out a decider and wrapped it up 12-10, 11-8, 8-11, 8-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5.

It has been the biggest upset at the ongoing three-day tournament starting on Friday.

Zhang had reached the knockout stage with a runner-up finish in Group A after beating Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico but losing to Bernadette Szocs of Romania, while Japanese star Hirano, 19, just paddled off her campaign as the fourth seed entering the main draw automatically.

"I am so happy now. I watched her (Miu Hirano's) match footage last night. She is much higher than me in the world ranking, so I felt under no pressure at all," said Zhang after reaching the quarterfinals.

"I just focused on my own game today. I led 2-0 which gave me a lot of confidence. When she won the next three games, I still believed that I had a chance and that I could come back.

"She is very fast, but I am speedy as well, so I feel very comfortable playing against her," added the California-raised American-born-Chinese.

Zhang headed to Chengdu off the back of a spectacular showing at the 2019 Pan American Table Tennis Championships in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion, winning all four titles she was eligible to compete for.

It's her first time to have reached a World Cup quarterfinal in a total of just three outings for the annual event.

The six-time U.S. national champion will next play Austria's eighth seed Sofia Polcanova later on Saturday evening.