Zhang Defiantly Battles into 2019 World Cup Semifinal

By Matt Hetherington | Oct. 19, 2019, 7:51 a.m. (ET)


2019 is getting better and better for USA's Lily Zhang, who is now on a dream run at the 2019 Uncle Pop ITTF Women's World Cup after having been selected as the wild card entrant. 

Zhang, who won her 5th US National Championship this year, then went on to win 4 gold medals at the Pan American Championship, has now advanced to the semifinal stage of the Women's World Cup, after a quarterfinal win over Austria's Sofia Polcanova. 

What started off as a great tournament with a 4-1 win over Adriana Diaz to make the main draw, got unquestionably better as Zhang stunned spectators by defeating 4th seed and current world ranked 9, Miu Hirano of Japan. 

Zhang, currently ranked 49th in the world, went one step further in the quarterfinal with a dazzling 7-game victory over Polcanova, currently ranked 16 in the world. 

It was a hard fought back and forth battle all the way to the end with the American making a great start in the first game and solidifying her lead out to 2-1, but her much taller Austrian opponent knuckled down for an intense face-off and took the next two games to lead 3-2. 

The resolve of Lily Zhang goes to show why she has been worthy of the World Cup wild card. Even trailing at 3-2, she continued to fight and lift the bar, unleashing heavy topspin backhand loops and combining them with excellent follow-up attacks.

Confidence was a key factor, and even as she trailed 5-2 in the 7th game, Zhang showed no sign of quitting.

As she caught up to trail by just 1 point, Zhang successfully forced a timeout from Polcanova. Unfortunately it was too late to halt the growing momentum of the 23 year-old US star.

Match point fell into the hands of Zhang and she delivered, ripping a heavy spin backhand to bring an end to the match. Having eliminated the highest ranked European player in the current world rankings, Zhang moves on to the semifinal. 

Zhang is set to come up against many-time World Cup champion Liu Shiwen of China in her next match, a challenge we are sure she will raise the bar for. 

Congratulations to Lily, an outstanding result!