Liu on brink of drought-breaking medal

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Steve Jancetic / AAP News

 

The rising star of Australian table tennis has powered her way into the women’s singles semi-finals.

 

Generation next took centre stage at the table tennis on Friday night, and rising star Yangzi Liu is now one win away from becoming the first Australian woman to win a Commonwealth Games singles medal.

Liu, the 20-year-old from Sydney, booked her place in the women’s singles semi-finals at the Commonwealth Games with a 4-1 victory over Welsh 16-year-old Anna Hursey.

Australia has only ever won one singles medal in the sport at Commonwealth level, William Henzell taking silver in men’s singles in Melbourne in 2006.

“So much relief, I was nervous because this match, because I know I’m so close to a medal match,” said Liu, though she admitted to being far more apprehensive about talking to reporters than she was about playing.

“Hopefully if you interview me again I will still be happy.”

The clash showcased the future of table tennis at Commonwealth level, with none of the other six quarter-finalists under 24.

Hursey is the Welsh whiz-kid who as an 11-year-old became the youngest-ever athlete to compete at a Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018.

The two had already met earlier in the Games in the women’s teams bronze medal contest, where Liu prevailed in three epic games.

She will take on Jian Zeng in the semis, the young Aussie ranked just 12 places below her rival from Singapore.

Women’s singles top seed Tianwei Feng – the world No.16 – also progressed to the final four with a 4-0 win over Australian veteran Jian Fang Lay.

Liu is Australia’s last remaining singles hope with Nicholas Lum losing his round of 16 match to India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran 4-2.

Australia is alive in all three doubles competitions, with Lum and Minhyung Jee beating English pair Tom Jarvis and Charlotte Bardsley 3-0 to move into the mixed doubles semi-finals.

He is also into the men’s doubles semi-finals alongside fellow 17-year-old Finn Luu, with the teens to go up against Sharath Kamal Achanta and Sa thiyan Gnanasekaran for a spot in the gold medal mat ch.

Australia has two teams left in the women’s doubles with Liu and Chunyi Feng joining Lay and Jee in reaching the last 16.

The Aussies are guaranteed at least one more gold in table tennis with Qian Ya nd and Li Na Lei to meet in an all-Australian clash for gold in the women’s singles classes 6-10, while Lin Ma goes up against Welshman Joshua Stacey in the men’s singles classes 8-10 gold medal match.

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