SINGAPORE - Trailing for the entire deciding game, she was down 4-1, then 9-7, before she faced a match-point.
But national paddler Yu Mengyu refused to throw in the towel, and produced a stunning upset to beat Japan's world No. 11 Miu Hirano 3-2 (11-4, 6-11, 11-6, 7-11, 12-10) in the WTT Contender Doha round of 16 on Thursday (March 4).
The world No. 50 next faces Thailand's world No. 41 Suthasini Sawettabut in the quarter-finals of the US$200,000 (S$267,000) event on Friday.
Yu, 31, told The Straits Times: "We prepared well and I was more decisive in the opening game, but she then made adjustments as the match wore on.
"We had some issues with serving and receiving in the decider. Perhaps the best-of-five nature of the competition makes higher-ranked players more nervous and I was able to capitalise."
The victory represents a breakthrough for Yu, who had lost her last three meetings against the 2017 World Championship women's singles bronze medallist who is also 11 years her junior.
Yu said: "This win is a big confidence boost ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in July. I'm also glad to spot some areas I can still improve on."
Her triumph is more remarkable as she is nursing a chronic back injury and is also involved in the doubles event with Lin Ye. On Wednesday, they beat Qatar's Maha Ali and Maryam Ali 3-0 (11-2, 11-3, 11-5) in the round of 16.
Yu said: "I've lost 3kg since coming to Qatar. I played through three qualifiers so I'm definitely tired, and this inevitably affects my agility and reflexes.
"But this is something athletes have to face and I can only stay positive, try to recover as best as I can and replenish with fluids and protein."
She faces a familiar foe in Suthasini. They are tied at 1-1 in previous international encounters with the Thai winning their last match 4-3 at the 2015 Czech Open.
Yu however, has actually won in their last three meetings in the Japan T-League in the past two years.
"I will surely take her seriously. Players who make the top eight are usually have good form and momentum. We will do our best and I hope to be fruitful in my following matches," she said.