Hirano crowned at expense of Chinese at Asian champs

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Teenage sensation Miu Hirano won the women's singles by beating three top-ranked Chinese in a row at the Asian Table Tennis Championships on Saturday, while her fellow Japanese Koki Niwa ousted Xu Xin out of the men's singles quarterfinals.

Hirano, who turned 17 years old on Friday, took a 11-9, 11-8, 11-7 quick win over Chen Meng, ranked fifth in the world, to lift the trophy that had been in China's hands for five consecutive editions.

En route to the unexpected final, Hirano beat Olympic and world champion Ding Ning 3-2 in Friday's quarterfinals to produce the arguably biggest upset of the tourney, and shocked out world No. 2 Zhu Yuling earlier on Saturday.

In men's play, China's top pen-holder Xu Xin suffered another unexpected defeat following the shock exit of top seed Ma Long in the third round, letting go a possible All-Chinese final of the men's singles at the championships.

The world No. 3, who's in the same half with Ma, lost 12-10, 6-11, 11-8, 11-7 to Niwa in the quarterfinals. Early on Thursday, Ma was beaten 11-9, 11-8, 6-11, 11-6 by South Korea's Jeong Sang Eun in the round of 32.

"Niwa seemed much experienced than before," said Xu. "He's growing from a youngster to an established player." Niwa will face Jeong in Sunday's semifinals after the latter came back from one set down to win 8-11, 15-13, 11-9, 11-8 over Japanese Maharu Yoshimura.

The other semifinal will pit China's Zhang Jike and Fan Zhendong after the former defeated teammate Lin Gaoyuan in full sets and Fan made short work of Lam Siu Hang of Hong Kong, China 11-3, 11-4, 11-8.

It has been the first time since 2000 that the men's singles final will not feature two Chinese players.

Also on Saturday, world No. 2 Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan overcame a slow start to beat fellow Chinese Fang Bo and Zhou Yu 3-1 in the men's doubles final.


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