Paddler Yu Mengyu stuns world No. 11 Miu Hirano in Doha
National paddler Yu Mengyu did not lead at any juncture of her WTT (World Table Tennis) Contender Doha round-of-16 clash with world No. 11 Miu Hirano yesterday, until it actually mattered.
With the tie finely poised at two games apiece, the 20-year-old Japanese starlet always looked in the box seat in the decider, until she reached match-point.
Then Singapore's world No. 50 took over. Trailing 9-10, not only did Yu save the match-point, but she also took the game 12-10 and the match 3-2 (11-4, 6-11, 11-6, 7-11, 12-10) in Qatar.
This is the first time Yu, who is nursing a chronic back ailment, has beaten 2016 Table Tennis World Cup winner Hirano in their last three meetings. She told The New Paper: "Both of us made some mistakes during match five.
"However, I persevered and focused on the match point by point. I was calm and collected and I managed to execute the strategy that I had planned earlier."
National women's team coach Hao Anlin added: "We prepared well and thoroughly analysed Hirano's play.
"Yu Mengyu was confident and gained momentum throughout the game. Her opponent was more conservative in her play today."
Before the meeting with Hirano, Yu said it would prove "a good test ahead of the Olympics".
When asked yesterday where she was at in terms of her preparation for the July 23 to Aug 8 Tokyo Games, the 31-year-old said: "I believe that I have improved technically.
"And during this Covid pandemic, I have maintained my fitness and had time to recover from my injuries."
Next up for Yu in the quarter-finals of the US$200,000 (S$266,000) tournament today is Thailand's world No. 41 Suthasini Sawettabut, who knocked out Singapore's top paddler and world No. 12 Feng Tianwei.