Japan caused a sensational upset yesterday, knocking out overwhelming favourites and defending champions China 3-0 in the semi-final of the Thomas Cup badminton championship in New Delhi.
World No 4 Kenichi Tago and the fast-rising Kento Momoto registered contrasting wins over more fancied opponents to help Japan make the final for the first time.
Tago scored an easy 21-13, 21-11 win over world No 2 Chen Long in 43 minutes, and former world junior champion Momoto defeated world No 6 Du Pengyu 23-25, 21-18, 21-14.'
The 14th-ranked Momoto, who won the decisive match immediately after Kenichi Hayakawa and Hiroyuki Endo won the doubles, credited the pair for the victory.
“The only way to win against China is to take them in the doubles, and that was exactly our game plan,” Momoto said. “As a team, we are targeting to win the title, and we have some experienced players.”
Japan’s South Korean coach Park Joo-bong said the victory was a surprise.
“It came as a big surprise to us all,” he said. “What was even more surprising was the way Momota won the second singles against Du. If he had not, then the tie could have gone either way with Lin Dan to play the third singles.”
Japan will play either Malaysia or Indonesia in Sunday’s final.
However, the China women, featuring the world’s top three players, made the final of the Uber Cup with a 3-0 victory over South Korea.
World No 1 Li Xuerui scored an easy 21-11, 21-19 win over Sung Ji-hyun, with Bao Yixin and Tang Jinhua combining for the doubles win, and world No 2 Wang Shixian sealing the victory with a hard fought 21-13, 16-21, 21-10 win over Bae Yeon-ju.
China will meet either India or Japan in the final on Saturday.