China vs Thailand in Uber semis
Defending champion China will face dark horse Thailand in the last four of the Uber Cup after a dramatic day in the women’s event yesterday, while South Korea will play top-seeded Japan in the other semifinal.
Thailand edged into the final four, with Busanan Ongbamrungphan sparking jubilation among the crowd in Bangkok by winning the final women’s singles 9-21, 12-21 to seal a 3-2 victory.
World No. 4 Ratchanok Intanon started the tie well for the home side, demolishing Indonesia’s Fitriani Fitriani in the first rubber. But the visitors won the next two points, before a Thai doubles pair clawed back a point and Busanan powered her team to victory.
“I am really happy that I could make one point for my team,” 22-year-old Busanan said after the match, adding that the home support helped “a lot”.
As for their chances against China, she said it would be “very tough”.
“But I think everyone in my team can do it. I will try my best,” she added.
China recovered from a nervy start to beat Denmark 3-1.
Mia Blichfeldt drew first blood, taking apart world No. 5 Chen Yufei in the opening singles.
But 14-time Uber champion China came back strong, with Olympic champion Li Xuerui finding her rhythm in her comeback tournament to beat Natalia Koch Rohde 21-7, 21-9 in 30 minutes.
“I was definitely better prepared today,” Li said after the match.
Japan and South Korea complete the semifinal line-up, both also stuttering through their quarterfinals yesterday.
Japan’s women clawed back a win following the first match — a 19-21, 16-21 defeat of world No. 2 Akane Yamaguchi by Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu-ying, who ranks higher than her.
The top seeds bounced back with doubles pair Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota tearing through their rivals in the next match, followed by a routine 21-11, 21-12 win by singles world champion Nozomi Okuhara.
South Korea also struggled to get started against Canada, but eked out three wins against its unfancied opposition.
Victory was sealed by 16-year-old An Se-young, who celebrated exuberantly after her 21-13, 19-21, 21-11 win in the third singles over Brittney Tam.
“I told coach Kim (Ji-hyun) that I would dance on court if I won,” she said after the match, according to a Badminton World Federation press release.
The prestigious biennial event has brought together 16 top teams for a week of intense competition for the men’s Thomas Cup and the Uber Cup.