Japan’s resilience proved too hard for Chinese Taipei to crack as the 2014 champions fought their way into the Thomas Cup semifinals.
Japan were 1-2 down and with Akira Koga/Yuta Watanabe caught in a tense standoff with Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han in the first game, the Japanese team looked on edge. Yet, the scratch combination stayed sharp through those tense moments, and with the first game in the bag, the momentum completely shifted their way.
At 2-2 the tie was Japan’s to lose, for the experienced Kenta Nishimoto was favourite against his 19-year-old opponent Liao Jhuo-Fu. There were no surprises, with Nishimoto calmly outplaying his younger opponent and clinching the semifinal place.
“I was quite nervous, but I’ve been in this situation before,” said Nishimoto. “I haven’t played him before and I had no idea about what he was capable of, but I studied his videos. On court though I could control the play quite well.”
What will enthuse Japan is the form of singles spearhead Kento Momota, who kept up a consistent level through his contest with Chou Tien Chen, beating him for the tenth straight time.
Chinese Taipei won the next two matches, raising visions of an upset and a first Thomas Cup medal, with Olympic champions Lee Yang/Wang Chi-Lin blitzing world champions Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi, and Wang Tzu Wei outplaying Kanta Tsuneyama.
♦ Ratchanok Intanon led hosts Thailand to a 3-0 whitewash of India to make the semifinals, recovering from a game down to beat Pusarla V Sindhu 18-21 21-17 21-12.
Jongkolphan Kititharakul/Rawinda Prajongjai and Pornpawee Chochuwong followed up with straight games victories, ensuring that Thailand have made the last four for the third time in a row.
♦ Korea too made it with a 3-0 result over Denmark. The Danes had their chances in all three matches, with Mia Blichfeldt giving An Se Young plenty of trouble in the opening singles.
After An Se Young had secured the lead, Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan made it 2-0 with a close victory over Sara Thygesen/Maiken Fruergaard, before Kim Ga Eun beat Line Christophersen 10-21 21-9 21-16.