China to play South Korea in Sudirman Cup final

China made the final after sealing a 3-2 win over the 2015 finalist Japan. South Korea, which beat China for its last Sudirman Cup title in Eindhoven in 2003, won the other semifinal 3-1 over Thailand.

Dual Olympic and five-time world champion Lin Dan fought off Kenta Nishimoto 21-19, 21-16 in the men’s singles. ( File photo)   -  AP

Defending champions China will face three-time winner South Korea in the final of the mixed teams Sudirman Cup after fighting off a stern Japanese challenge here today.

The 10-time winner needed victory in the fifth match by women’s doubles pair Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan to seal a 3-2 win over the 2015 finalist Japan.

Chen and Jia prevailed 21-12, 21-19 over the Japanese duo Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi after a 49-minute tussle. South Korea, which beat China for its last Sudirman Cup title in Eindhoven in 2003, won the other semifinal 3-1 over Thailand.

Japan took China all the way with wins in the mixed doubles through Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino 21-12, 14-21, 21-19 over China’s Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen and in the women’s singles with Akane Yamaguchi over Sun Yu 21-17, 21-15.

Dual Olympic and five-time world champion Lin Dan fought off Kenta Nishimoto 21-19, 21-16 in the men’s singles while Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen took out the men’s doubles 23-21, 21-16 over Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda.

Sung Ji Hyun defeated Ratchanok Intanon in the fourth match of the semifinal tie 21-13, 21-17 to clinch passage to the final for South Korea.

Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai gave the Thais the opening match winning their mixed doubles, 21-16, 21-12 against Choi Solgyu and Chae Yoo Jung in 41 minutes.

All the pressure was on Korea’s men’s singles spearhead Son Wan Ho, but he came through to overcome Suppanyu Avihingsanon, 18-21, 21-10, 21-17.

Choi Solgyu and Seo Seung Jae were too strong for a deflated Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Bodin Isara in the men’s doubles 21—13, 21—16, leaving it all on Ratchanok Intanon in the women’s singles to keep Thailand alive in the tie’s fourth match.

The Thai however was way below her best, unable to stick in the rallies that Sung forced her into. “It is just amazing,” South Korean head coach Kang Kyung Jin said.

“We’ve made history. This year our team was called weak. At the last minute our senior men’s doubles players left the team. We targeted the quarterfinal. Now we are so happy.

“The last two years have not been good for Korean badminton. Now we’re trying to set up a new generation and looking ahead at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”

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