Kiria, 21, defeated Hong Kong rival Coco Lin 15-11 in their women’s individual epee table-of-64 bout at the Makuhari Messe Hall to progress into the next round where she will share the piste with 36-year-old Popescu.
Her bout with Popescu, who won the silver medal in this event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, will take place at 11.25am (10.25am Singapore time).
Kiria, who is one of the lowest-ranked athletes in the fencing programme, trailed 2-0 to world No. 90 Lin, 26, but remained composed. The Singaporean then went in front before the end of the first of three rounds, and never relinquished her lead.
Her coach, Henry Koh, said: “The world No. 1 is going to be a really hard (bout) but Kiria has shown she’s in a place where she can fence her best.
“The pressure is lifted off her for the next bout. The first one was hard but winnable, and she didn’t want to disappoint Singapore.”