October 16, 2019
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Badminton powers China, Japan set up blockbuster Sudirman Cup final

Nanning, China, May 25 (efe-epa).- Co-favorites China and Japan rolled into the final of the Sudirman Cup, badminton's mixed-team world championship, with dominating victories in Saturday's semifinals.

The host Chinese took the court first at the Guangxi Sports Center in Nanning and did not drop a single game in brushing aside Thailand three matches to none.

The world No. 1 mixed-doubles duo of Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong set the tone early with a surprisingly easy 21-18, 21-7 win over the fourth-ranked Thai pairing of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai.

The Thais had upset the reigning world champions en route to winning last month's Singapore Open but had no answers on Saturday.

After a tight first game, Zheng and Huang stepped up their aggressiveness at the start of the second to force numerous errors and race out to a 13-2 lead that effectively put the contest out of reach.

The closest Thailand came to winning a game was in the second match, when Chinese men's singles world No. 2 Shi Yuqi used powerful and steep smashes to overcome some sloppy errors and stave off four game points in the second game.

He finally clinched a 21-15, 26-24 victory over Thailand's Kantaphon Wangcharoen on his third match point with one final smash winner.

China's third-ranked men's doubles team of Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen then clinched their country's berth in the final with a 21-14, 21-17 win over Thailand's Tinn Isriyanet and Kittinupong Kedren.

In the second semifinal, Japan were nearly as impressive in defeating Indonesia three games to one.

Although the Indonesian world No. 1 men's doubles team of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo showcased their uncanny quickness and reflexes in a 21-14, 21-18 win over second-ranked Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda, it was all Japan the rest of the match.

Fourth-ranked Akane Yamaguchi got her team on the board by routing Gregoria Mariska Tunjung 21-13, 21-13 in women's singles before Kento Momota, the top-ranked player in men's singles, edged Anthony Sinisuka Ginting 21-17, 21-19.

Momota needed an hour and six minutes to win a hard-fought match against an opponent who has troubled him in the past, but by avoiding a third game he was able to conserve precious energy heading into Sunday's final.

The Japanese have an embarrassment of riches in women's doubles, although the reigning world champion and world No. 1 team of Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara made their case for representing their country in the final by defeating the Indonesian team of Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu 21-15, 21-17 to clinch the semifinal victory.

China have been the dominant force in badminton for more than two decades and will be looking to extend their record haul of Sudirman Cup titles to 11 on Sunday.

Japan have not been a traditional badminton power but have produced a slew of great singles and doubles players in recent years and now are one victory away from a maiden title at this premier biennial mixed-team competition.

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