TOKYO - Singapore's Yu Mengyu made a mockery of the world rankings but not the form book, as she beat eighth-ranked Taiwanese Cheng I-Ching 4-0 (11-5, 11-9, 12-10, 11-6) at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Tuesday (July 27).
Yu, 47th in the standings, moves into the table tennis women's singles round of 16 which takes place in the evening session on the same day. She also improves her record against Cheng to 11-3.
She said: "Perhaps playing in the mixed doubles yesterday worked against her (Cheng), while I could rest and focus on practising my strategy for this match.
"The score may look pretty, but it was far from easy. We prepared in detail and I'm familiar with her playing style as we have faced off many times, but there were also difficult moments in the match. A big winning factor was my mindset to tide through these difficulties."
A disappointed Cheng, 29, said: "I tried my best but there's just something about Mengyu's style of play that works against me."
Yu, 31, will next face rank outsider, American Liu Juan, the world No. 449 who has worked her way from the preliminary round to claim the scalps of Nigerian Olufunke Oshonaike (175th), Spaniard Galia Dvorak (77th), Slovakian Barbora Balazova (54th) and Romanian Bernadette Szocs (27th) at Tokyo 2020.
Yu will fancy her chances of winning and at least matching her quarter-final appearance at Rio 2016, but cannot afford to be complacent.
On the prospect of facing the 36-year-old Liu (the match will start not before 6.30pm), Yu said: "We were both part of China's long list when I was about 13 and played against her a few times then but that is a long time ago.
"You must have some qualities to be able to make it this far in the Olympics and I won't be taking her lightly. It will still be a tough battle for every point. All I want to do now is to rush back to the Olympic Village and get some rest for tonight."
If she makes it to the last eight, she will meet either Japan's world No. 10 Kasumi Ishikawa or Austria's world No. 17 Sofia Polcanova.
She has a 7-8 and 2-1 record against Ishikawa and Polcanova respectively, but won her last match against both players.
Despite nursing a chronic back injury, Yu has not dropped a single game in the Japanese capital. She received a bye into the second round and steamrolled past Portugal's world No. 63 Shao Jieni 4-0.
Meanwhile, Singapore's top paddler, world No. 9 Feng Tianwei will play Germany's world No. 22 Han Ying in the round of 16 in the evening session on Tuesday. That match is not before 9.30pm (Singapore time).