Afternoon belongs to Japan, Miu Hirano and Kasumi Ishikawa book semi-final places

Places in the semi-finals of the Women’s Singles event at the Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals at stake, in the concluding round of last eight matches on the afternoon of Saturday 10th December, it was Japan who enjoyed success.

Miu Hirano, the no.10 seed, beat Hong Kong’s Tie Yana, the no.5 seed (11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 5-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6), being followed by Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.2 seed, who accounted for Korea’s Yang Haeun, the no.8 seed (10-12, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7, 13-11, 11-6)

Success for Miu Hirano and once again it was success in the Gulf area of the World; earlier in the year she had beaten Tie Yana in three straight games (11-6, 11-6, 11-4) in the group stage contest at the Nakheel Asian Cup in nearby Dubai.

In Doha, life was much more testing and it appeared that Tie Yana might extract revenge. After losing the first two games, she won the next three and established a narrow 3-1 lead in the fifth.

Fluent from the backhand as always, experience was surely starting to count. However, the enthusiasm of youth was not to be deflated. Miu Hirano played without any inhibitions, eventually her greater speed told.

Meanwhile in the ensuing Women’s Singles quarter-final contest, past results favoured Kasumi Ishikawa; of their 15 previous meetings, she had won 12 times. However, two of the three victories that had been secured by Yang Haeun had been in the Gulf area of the world.

She beat Kasumi Ishikawa at the semi-final stage of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event in 2011 on the ITTF World Tour in Dubai, before repeating the success in 2014 in the final in Kuwait.

Was it to be an omen?

It appeared it might well be as Yang Haeun captured the opening two games; however, it was not to happen; Kasumi Ishikawa secured the next four, the afternoon belonged to Japan.

At the semi-final stage Miu Hirano faces Germany’s Han Ying; Kasumi Ishikawa confronts China’s Zhu Yuling.

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