China’s star shuttlers will be tested by Thailand’s dark-horse women’s team and Indonesia’s men in the last four of the Uber and Thomas Cups, with Japan also grabbing spots in both semi-finals after a dramatic knockout stage on Thursday.
The prestigious biennial event has brought together 16 top teams from five continents for a week of intense competition in Bangkok for the men’s Thomas Cup and the Uber Cup which is contested by the women.
In Thomas Cup action, China’s star-stacked men secured their final-four spot early in the day with a 3-0 wipeout of Taiwan. The only stumble came when world number five Chen Long dropped one game against Taiwan’s Chou Tien-chen, though he bounced back to finish the job 21-18, 10-21, 21-14.
A tense match to determine who would face top-seeds China then followed between arch-rivals Malaysia and Indonesia – who were runners-up in the last 2016 Thomas Cup.
Malaysia’s veteran player Lee Chong Wei stole the first point 21-19, 21-16 from Anthony Sinisuka Ginting. But Indonesia’s Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo – the world’s number one doubles pair – put their country back on track with a 21-19, 20-22, 21-13 win against Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong.
Eying a shot at both trophies, Japan rolled into the semi-finals after its top-seeded women overcame an early scare from Taiwan and the men outclassed France 3-1. The men will have a rough ride against Denmark – whose team made history in 2016 by becoming the first non-Asian country to take home the Thomas trophy.
The Danes took down Korea 3-0 on Thursday to continue their run at retaining the title.
World number one Viktor Axelsen, who had lost a match the night before to Malaysia’s Lee, regained his rhythm on Thursday to beat Korea’s Son Wan-ho, who is one rank below him, 21-14, 14-21, 22-20.
With AFP inputs