Kento Momota releasing all of his emotion after a key victory for Japan (Photo: Badminton Photo)
We have a China vs Japan final!
Date: 5/25/2019 4:39 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
The semi-finals of the 16th edition of the Sudirman Cup in Nanning was something to behold. And now we know who will be fighting to win the magnificent 80 cm high trophy.

In the last two editions of the Sudirman Cup, Thailand have made it to the semi-finals. This year they remained consistent, beating the defending champions South Korea 3-1 in the quarters. However, the challenge of facing the mighty China, with the home support, was a bridge too far. 

Looking at the China line-up for the five events with three having won gold, one silver and one bronze at World Championships level, it is no surprise that they were able to dispatch Thailand 3-0 and in straight games. 

World Champions Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong in the Mixed Doubles and Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen in the Men’s Doubles were very assured. It was only Shi Yuqi in the Men’s Singles that was pushed all the way to the wire in the second game against the in-form Kantaphon Wangcharoen. Shi held on to win a nail-biting match 21-15, 26-24.

China lead the way

Sit back and enjoy
So, then the Chinese fans and players were in the brilliant position to sit back and enjoy the second semi-final to see who will meet them in tomorrow’s final. Would it be the 1989 champions and 6-time runner-up Indonesia, or 2015 runner-up Japan?

In an exciting match-up, Indonesia took first blood in no-nonsense style. Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sukamuljo met Japan’s Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda for the 14th time. The last couple of matches have gone all the way, but today Gideon and Sukamuljo were in no mood to mess around and won in straight games, 21-14, 21-18.

In the Women’s Singles, Tunjung had no response to Yamaguchi’s persistent intensity, levelling the tie at 1-1.

Only one month to go

17 wins, no losses
Then is was time for the most anticipated and pivotal match of the day. A Kento Momota vs Anthony Ginting special. And special it most definitely was. In patches, Ginting played some outstanding combinations, but Momota was predictably steady and played the percentages throughout. Leaving enough in the tank for when it really mattered. Momota has now 17 Sudirman Cup match wins, with no losses. Giving Japan a vital 2-1 lead with a 21-17, 21-19 win. 

Japan were in good spirits and positive leading into the Women’s Doubles, in what turned out to be the final match. As the reliable Matsumoto and Nagahara’s defence proved too solid for Polii and Rahayu, who threw everything at it. Losing 15-21, 17-21, they were not able to force a deciding match in the Mixed Doubles which would have been a very tight one to call between Indonesia’s Jordan and Oktavianti and Watanabe and Higashino.

There we have it. Tomorrow we will have a repeat of the 2015 China vs Japan final. China won 3-0 then and have never not lifted the Sudirman Cup when on home soil. But if any team can do it, it will be the emerging Japanese force. 

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