Denmark Fly High – Semi-finals Session 2: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Denmark’s plucky band of warriors are one step away from doing what none of their predecessors have done in 67 years.

The depleted Danish squad, without some of their top stars, nevertheless fought back from the brink in an emotion-charged semi-final at the TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016 last evening.

Semis_Emil Holst

Meanwhile, Uber Cup joint-favourites Japan crashed out without much of a fight against Korea, who will be bidding for only their second title when they take on China today.

The vagaries of team play were in full evidence in the Denmark-Malaysia semi-final clash. Semis_Lee Chong WeiDenmark were without the services of Jan O Jorgensen and Mads Pieler Kolding due to injury. Malaysia went 2-0 ahead, thanks to Lee Chong Wei and Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong. Denmark then staged its great rearguard action through Hans-Kristian Vittinghus.

Both Vittinghus (featured image) and his opponent Iskandar Zulkarnain had momentum going into the match after memorable wins in the quarter-finals. Iskandar got off to a blistering start, raining winners on the Dane, until Vittinghus shifted gears and displayed some outstanding defensive badminton, throwing himself all around the court and negating the Malaysian’s biggest shots. The Denmark squad in the gallery, led by Jan O Jorgensen and Mathias Christiansen, began to get the crowd behind Vittinghus, whipping up a “Denmark, Chai-O” chant that gave them wings on the night. The pattern shifted and Zulkarnain, despite giving it all he had, found that wasn’t enough against Vittinghus who barely played a wrong shot on the day: 21-18 21-18.

“I felt a lot more pressure today than yesterday,” said Vittinghus. “I had a nightmare start, but I’m extremely proud of the way I handled it. I had a good understanding of how he played as I’d watched him on TV and video. I felt the momentum was on Malaysia’s side and he came out fighting. I felt unbelievable relief when I got the final point. It was amazing that the crowd was behind me with their chant.”

Semis_Kim Astrup & Anders Skaarup Rasmussen

Malaysia still had the edge, and when Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong took the opening game over Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen, Danish hearts must have felt aflutter. Once again the Danes lifted themselves, returning the best smashes Tan and Koo could fire their way. Astrup in particular had a glorious match, imposing himself in the rallies and powering the Danes on to victory: 10-21 21-8 21-13.

Semis_Sung Ji Hyun“The crowd was with us and that was an important factor in our win. It feels like we’re playing in Denmark!” said Rasmussen.

Chong Wei Feng was the hero of Malaysia’s last Thomas Cup campaign. His experience was expected to count against Emil Holst, but it was the youthful exuberance of Holst that prevailed on the day. Like his teammates before him, Holst stayed strong and executed his task to perfection, even as Chong wilted in the conditions. There were a few tense moments towards the end for Denmark, but nothing could stop Holst from ensuring a date for his team in the final: 21-15 21-18.

“It was unbelievable,” said Holst. “That’s what Thomas Cup is about. This isn’t the best match I’ve played, but it’s certainly the most important. I’m so proud to be part of this Danish team.”

In the women’s team championships, Japan, who were expected to be a threat to China for the title, were inexplicably below par as they went down in the fourth match. The biggest blows to Japan were the capitulation of Nozomi Okuhara to Sung Ji Hyun (21-13 21-13) and Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi to Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan. Even Kurumi Yonao/Naoko Fukuman, who recently had set a world record for featuring in the longest-ever match, couldn’t quite stretch Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee (21-15 21-14). The only point for Japan came when Bae Yeon Ju retired due to injury while playing Akane Yamaguchi in the second singles.

“I couldn’t carry out what I set out to do,” rued Okuhara, who has been below par after her All England victory in March. “I slipped a couple of times in the first game and that scared me because I’ve had surgery on both my knees – one a year after I won the World Junior Championships, and the other a year after that. This year, during the All England, I hurt my right knee. So today although the knee didn’t hurt, I was worried about it and didn’t want to put any stress on it. That affected my movement.”

A delighted Jung Kyung Eun said they had prepared for a long match against Matsutomo/Takahashi. “The loss of the men (in the quarter-finals) did not bother us as we were focussed on our task. We won’t be intimidated in the final.”

Semis_Chang Ye Na & Lee So Hee

Click here for results

Thomas & Uber Cup News

Li-Ning – A Stringing Success!

Li-Ning – A Stringing Success!

20 June 2016
China Brook No Challenge – Uber Cup Review

China Brook No Challenge – Uber Cup Review

27 May 2016
A Momentous Event for Europe – Thomas Cup Review

A Momentous Event for Europe – Thomas Cup Review

25 May 2016
Denmark Crowned Kings of the World: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Denmark Crowned Kings of the World: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup...

22 May 2016
Title No.14 for China – TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Title No.14 for China – TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals...

21 May 2016
Indonesia Storm into Final – Semi-finals Session 1: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Indonesia Storm into Final – Semi-finals Session 1: TOTAL BWF Thomas &...

20 May 2016
Korea Shock China; Japan Out – Quarter-finals Session 2: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Korea Shock China; Japan Out – Quarter-finals Session 2: TOTAL BWF Thomas...

20 May 2016
Shivani Aces it for India – Quarter-finals Session 1: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Shivani Aces it for India – Quarter-finals Session 1: TOTAL BWF Thomas...

19 May 2016
China Draw Korea in Thomas Cup Quarter-finals

China Draw Korea in Thomas Cup Quarter-finals

19 May 2016
China Blow Away Japan – Day 4 Session 3: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

China Blow Away Japan – Day 4 Session 3: TOTAL BWF Thomas...

18 May 2016
Japan Struggle to Beat India – Day 4 Session 2: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Japan Struggle to Beat India – Day 4 Session 2: TOTAL BWF...

18 May 2016
Denmark Top Group D – Day 4 Session 1: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Denmark Top Group D – Day 4 Session 1: TOTAL BWF Thomas...

18 May 2016
Indonesia Outclass Thailand – Day 3 Session 3: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Indonesia Outclass Thailand – Day 3 Session 3: TOTAL BWF Thomas &...

17 May 2016
Korea Singed by Malaysian Singles – Day 3 Session 2: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Korea Singed by Malaysian Singles – Day 3 Session 2: TOTAL BWF...

17 May 2016
Kjaersfeldt, Madsen Drive Danish Success – Day 3 Session 1: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Kjaersfeldt, Madsen Drive Danish Success – Day 3 Session 1: TOTAL BWF...

17 May 2016
China Down Battling French – Day 2 Session 3: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

China Down Battling French – Day 2 Session 3: TOTAL BWF Thomas...

16 May 2016
Indonesia Prevail Over Hong Kong – Day 2 Session 2: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Indonesia Prevail Over Hong Kong – Day 2 Session 2: TOTAL BWF...

16 May 2016
Thailand Continue to Cruise – Day 2 Session 1: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Thailand Continue to Cruise – Day 2 Session 1: TOTAL BWF Thomas...

16 May 2016
Madsen Swings it for Denmark – Day 1 Session 3: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Madsen Swings it for Denmark – Day 1 Session 3: TOTAL BWF...

15 May 2016
Japan Shaken by Inspired France – Day 1 Session 2: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Japan Shaken by Inspired France – Day 1 Session 2: TOTAL BWF...

15 May 2016
Strong Start by Thailand – Day 1 Session 1: TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016

Strong Start by Thailand – Day 1 Session 1: TOTAL BWF Thomas...

15 May 2016
TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016: Opening Salvos Fired as Teams Get Set

TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016: Opening Salvos Fired as...

14 May 2016
TOTAL BWF Uber Cup Preview: China, Japan Hold the Aces

TOTAL BWF Uber Cup Preview: China, Japan Hold the Aces

12 May 2016
TOTAL BWF Thomas Cup Preview: Can Denmark Break the Jinx?

TOTAL BWF Thomas Cup Preview: Can Denmark Break the Jinx?

11 May 2016
Japan Face French Obstacle in Thomas Cup Opener

Japan Face French Obstacle in Thomas Cup Opener

19 April 2016
Powerhouses China, Japan in Group A of Thomas Cup

Powerhouses China, Japan in Group A of Thomas Cup

21 March 2016
Defending Champions Japan Seeded 5th for Thomas Cup

Defending Champions Japan Seeded 5th for Thomas Cup

4 March 2016
Mexico, New Zealand in Thomas Cup final round

Mexico, New Zealand in Thomas Cup final round

23 February 2016
Indonesia, China Emerge Champions – Badminton Asia Championships finals

Indonesia, China Emerge Champions – Badminton Asia Championships finals

22 February 2016
Denmark Unchallenged at the Top: European Men’s & Women’s Team Championships finals

Denmark Unchallenged at the Top: European Men’s & Women’s Team Championships finals

22 February 2016
SA, Mauritius Crowned Champions: Africa Continental Team Championships finals

SA, Mauritius Crowned Champions: Africa Continental Team Championships finals

21 February 2016
New Zealand, Australia Reign Supreme: Oceania Men’s & Women’s Team Championships finals

New Zealand, Australia Reign Supreme: Oceania Men’s & Women’s Team Championships finals

21 February 2016
Mexico Clinch Men’s Title: Pan Am Team Continental Championships finals

Mexico Clinch Men’s Title: Pan Am Team Continental Championships finals

21 February 2016
Mexico, Canada in Final: Pan Am Team Continental Championships – Day 3

Mexico, Canada in Final: Pan Am Team Continental Championships – Day 3

20 February 2016
Bulgaria, Spain in Last-Four: European Men’s & Women’s Team Championships quarter-finals   

Bulgaria, Spain in Last-Four: European Men’s & Women’s Team Championships quarter-finals  

20 February 2016
China Knocked Out – Badminton Asia Team Championships quarter-finals

China Knocked Out – Badminton Asia Team Championships quarter-finals

20 February 2016
Garrido, Ho-Shue Shine: Pan Am Team Continental Championships – Day 2

Garrido, Ho-Shue Shine: Pan Am Team Continental Championships – Day 2

19 February 2016
Finland in Quarter-finals: European Men’s & Women’s Team Championships – Day 3

Finland in Quarter-finals: European Men’s & Women’s Team Championships – Day 3

19 February 2016
India Stun China: Badminton Asia Team Championships – Day 4

India Stun China: Badminton Asia Team Championships – Day 4

19 February 2016
Australia Win Exciting Final – Oceania Mixed Team Championships

Australia Win Exciting Final – Oceania Mixed Team Championships

18 February 2016
Estonia Edge Past Hungary: European Men’s & Women’s Team Championships – Day 2

Estonia Edge Past Hungary: European Men’s & Women’s Team Championships – Day...

18 February 2016
Indonesia Beat Chinese Taipei: Badminton Asia Team Championships – Day 3

Indonesia Beat Chinese Taipei: Badminton Asia Team Championships – Day 3

18 February 2016
Iris Wang Guides USA to Win: Pan Am Team Continental Championships – Day 1

Iris Wang Guides USA to Win: Pan Am Team Continental Championships –...

18 February 2016
Easy for New Zealand: Oceania Mixed Team Championships – Day 2

Easy for New Zealand: Oceania Mixed Team Championships – Day 2

17 February 2016
Narrow Win for Ukraine – European Men’s & Women’s Team Championships – Day 1

Narrow Win for Ukraine – European Men’s & Women’s Team Championships –...

17 February 2016
Close Shave for Malaysia: Badminton Asia Team Championships – Day 2

Close Shave for Malaysia: Badminton Asia Team Championships – Day 2

17 February 2016
Strong Start for New Caledonia – Oceania Mixed Team Championships Day 1

Strong Start for New Caledonia – Oceania Mixed Team Championships Day 1

16 February 2016
China Survive Scare: Badminton Asia Team Championships – Day 1

China Survive Scare: Badminton Asia Team Championships – Day 1

16 February 2016