Missing some of their best players, Japan were yet able to produce the eclectic combinations required to unlock Korea’s challenge in the semifinals of the Uber Cup.
The 3-1 win was particularly heartening for Japan after Akane Yamaguchi, their reliable singles spearhead, had fallen in an abject defeat to An Seyoung.
Korea’s strength was the doubles; yet, Japan could divine up the right pairs from among their accomplished bunch of doubles stars who were without their regular partners. The rearguard action was led by Yuki Fukushima and Mayu Matsumoto who had paired up only the previous day in their tie against India. Yet, once they had settled down, the Japanese barely skipped a beat in stopping world No.4 duo Lee Sohee/Shin Seungchan, 19-21 21-16 21-14.
Sayaka Takahashi had arrived less in Europe less than fully fit, but pressed into the second singles role, delivered for Japan. It was yet another gritty effort, having to come back from a game down against the tall Kim Gaeun, with her sharper skills helped her get the better of her opponent in three games.
Then it was up to Misaki Matsutomo and Nami Matsuyama. The second scratch pair held off Olympic bronze medallists Kim Soyeong/Kong Heeyong 21-17 21-18 to take Japan into the final for the third time in the last four editions.
“It’s a great result for us as we got the third point. We have both played with them before, although we were with different partners,” said Matsutomo.
China Avenge 2018
China avenged their 2018 semifinal defeat to Thailand with a comprehensive 3-0 result to enter the Uber Cup final for the 18th time in the last 19 editions.
The 2018 defeat was on their minds as several members of the Chinese team had featured in their defeat to Thailand in Bangkok. Ratchanok Intanon had beaten Chen Yu Fei then in the first singles, but in the last three years, Chen has evolved into a more complete player. Not that she needed to much on Friday, as Intanon retired early in the match complaining of a shoulder injury that she’d been carrying into the tournament.
Thailand tried mixing up their doubles, fielding Rawinda Prajongjai and Puttita Supajirakul, but the switch made little impact on Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan, as they blew past the Thais 21-15 21-10.
He Bing Jiao then wrapped it up for China, beating Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-15 21-16.
“We had lost to them last time, so we were very well prepared. That team defeat was on my mind as I had lost in the semifinals,” said Olympic champion Chen.
Thomas Cup: Japan Fight Back
Japan fought off a 0-2 deficit against Korea to prevail 3-2 and take their semifinal place against China, who swept past Thailand 3-0.
Indonesia and Denmark made the semifinals in the top half, with Indonesia beating Malaysia 3-0 and Denmark overcoming India 3-1.
Click here for match centre of TotalEnergies BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2020