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Japanese teenager beats top seed Ding Ning at Asian Championships

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-04-15 11:08
WUXI, East China - Japanese teenager Miu Hirano was too excited to stand on her feet after beating world No 1 Ding Ning of China to reach the women's singles semifinals here Friday at the Asian Table Tennis Championships.

The 17-year-old sensation came back from two sets down and rallied to win the fourth 16-14 to drug the match into full sets.

Trailing 3-1 in the decisive fifth set, Hirano managed to tie 4-4 and never looked back, nailing two match points on 10-8 before wrapping it up 3-11, 12-14, 11-9, 16-14, 12-10.

It has been the first time that the world No 11 beat a Chinese paddler. Last October, Hirano became the first non-Chinese World Cup winner on the absence of the whole Chinese team.

"I can't believe that I beat the Olympic champion. It's like a dream," said the birthday girl. "The victory is the best birthday gift ever!"

"Trailing early in the match, I just told myself, OK, you were losing it, so why not going all out," she added.3

Asked about her long term target as a professional table tennis player, Hirano said she wants an Olympic gold medal at the coming 2020 Games in Tokyo.

"Gold of singles or team event? Well, I want both," she added.

Hirano is not the top-rated Japanese female paddler in the sport's governing body ITTF's world rankings with Kasumi Ishikawa, Mima Ito, also 17, and Hitomi Sato in top 10.

Grand Slam winner and top seed here, Ding Ning, admitted that she'd underestimated the teenage girl.

"I thought I was the better player on court, but the rival's performance, especially her receiving, came much better than my imagination.

"She'd nothing to lose and she got lucky. I was just not able to win at the end of the day," said the 26-year-old.

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