Second singles Kim Ga Eun’s heroics helped Korea blank Japan 3-0 en route to their first Uber Cup final since 2016.
Favourites Japan were 2-0 down after an exhausted An Se Young staged a comeback against world champion Akane Yamaguchi and first doubles Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan dispatched Nami Matsuyama/Chiharu Shida in straight games.
Kim, though less fancied in her maiden encounter with world No.6 Nozomi Okuhara, then raced to a 17-minute 21-12 first game victory. Okuhara took the second 21-11 but Kim stayed focus in the face of a few unforced errors to grab the decider 21-16.
“I was calmer at the start because of our lead but lost a bit of confidence after the second game. Thanks to all the cheering from my teammates I was able to come back,” said Kim post-match.
“Also, Okuhara made a lot mistakes because they were under pressure as favourites and that worked to our advantage.”
Shin, who earlier combined with Lee to win 21-16 21-17, agreed the Japanese succumbed under pressure.
“They seemed unsettled from the start so we were able to play to our pace and control the rallies,” said the veteran of three Uber Cup campaigns.
Lee added: “An’s win made them nervous and they were trying too hard against us to level the score. The little sister gave us a good platform so we had to win too.”
Korea’s success at the Impact Arena avenged back-to-back last four defeats to today’s opponents in 2018 and 2021.
Tomorrow’s final against holders China, who defeated hosts Thailand 3-0 in the other semifinal, has some history.
It will be Korea’s first since their 3-1 loss to the same opponents in Kunshan six years ago. Their only title in 2010 also came against the Chinese in Kuala Lumpur.
Lee, who made her Uber Cup debut three editions later, said: “It would be good to win again, it’s been 12 years. Too long.”