THOMAS & UBER CUPS SF – Denmark is back!

For the first time in 20 years, Denmark will face Indonesia for the Thomas Cup, after Emil Holst sealed a 3-2 semi-final victory over Malaysia. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto […]

For the first time in 20 years, Denmark will face Indonesia for the Thomas Cup, after Emil Holst sealed a 3-2 semi-final victory over Malaysia.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

For the first time in ten years, Denmark will make an appearance in the Thomas Cup final but it is the first time since 1996 that they will face Indonesia, a team Denmark has lost to in four finals in total.

The first three matches all went according to world ranking, with world #1 Lee Chong Wei maintaining his unbeaten streak against Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, winning in straight games, but not without difficulty.  Goh V. Shem and Tan Wee Kiong refused to go down to the scratch pairing of Conrad-Petersen and Boe, who had beaten the world #7 pair on Thursday, and the Malaysians found themselves with an ominous 2-0 lead in the tie.

Jan Jorgensen had been rested for this tie, in favour of the quarter-final hero Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, who came through in the clutch to end the Kunshan winning streak by Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin.  Former world #1 Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong looked strong as they took the first game from the lower-ranked Kim Astrup / Anders Skaarup Rasmussen but the Danes dominated the 2nd and 3rd game to take the match and even the tie.

It all came down to the third singles between world #47 Emil Holst and #67 Chong Wei Feng.  Chong was the lower-ranked of the two men but he is far more experienced.  Not only has he been ranked as high as #12 in the world, but he was instrumental in Malaysia’s run to the Thomas Cup final in 2014.

Holst was undaunted, however, and he got the lead and kept it in both games, forcing Chong to play catch-up in the second but never letting him move into the lead.  The Danes will now relax and can watch the Uber Cup final on Saturday and prepare for their showdown with Indonesia on Sunday.

Bae goes down, but Korea goes forward

Both of the evening semi-finals in Kunshan turned into upsets as Korea withstood a retirement by second singles player Bae Yeon Ju to beat Japan 3-1.  The Koreans were helped by victories by both doubles pairs.

Sung Ji Hyun finally bounced back from four straight losses to Nozomi Okuhara to win in straight games.  Okuhara narrowly beat Sung in Japan last week in the bi-nation challenge but she was no match for the Korean in Kunshan on Friday.

Next up, the world #1 pairing of Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi, who had also beaten their Korean opponents just last week in Sakaide, just couldn’t find that winning formula and went down in three.  With the Koreans up 2-0, Bae Yeon Ju struggled at the beginning of her second game against Akane Yamaguchi and finally had to call it quits with what the Yonhap News Agency later reported as an ankle injury.

The fourth match looked on paper to be the first meeting between the world #8 and #9 women’s doubles pairs. Naoko Fukuman / Kurumi Yonao were one victory short of taking the Olympic spot from Jang Ye Na and Lee So Hee when they finished as runners-up at the Asian Championships a few weeks ago and that was before the two pairs had met on court.

They did get their chance to meet last week in Mitoyo, Japan, where the Koreans won handily.  On Friday in Kunshan as well, Jang and Lee maintained constant pressure and led from start to finish in both games to seal the victory for Korea and book an 8th final showdown with defending champion China.

Once again, a Korean team will get very little rest between a late-finishing victory and their bigger test the following afternoon.  Kim Hyo Min will move up to second singles and Lee Jang Mi is to get her first real test, against Wang Yihan.

Click here for complete semi-final results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @