(Credit: Badminton Photo)
We thought it was all over
Date: 5/20/2023 1:36 AM
Published by : Alan Raftery
China was all but out against Japan, facing four tournament-ending match points. However, the reigning champions pulled of a great escape to then go on to reach their fourteenth final.

At the beginning of the tie, it was Japan playing the role of the escape artist when 18-12 down in the mixed doubles decider. Kyohei Yamashita/ Naru Shinoya kept their belief until the very end and came back defeat Feng Yan Zhe/ Huang Dong Ping 26-24, 18-21, 24-22. 

Shi Yu Qi, despite a strong record against the speedy Kodai Naraoka had to remain focused throughout to win 13-21, 21-15, 21-17 and level the tie at 1-1.

Akane Yamaguchi, who was not having the best of weeks by her standards had find her best form for her country. The familiarity of playing Chen Yu Fei 27 times before may have aided this process, as she drew Japan closer to a historic upset with a 21-14, 21-15 win.

Takuro Hoki/ Yugo Kobayashi had a golden opportunity against Liu Yu Chen/ Ou Xuan Yi, a pair they narrowly defeated at the Malaysia Masters a year ago. Replicating this would give Japan their dream result. After over 80 minutes of huffing and puffing, they set up four match points. 

China was all but out. Liu explained how they were able to cope under the immense pressure.

“We were not thinking about it at all. We just played point by point and, if we had played like we did at the end during the whole match, it would not be such a difficult match for us”.

Liu/ Ou were able to win the match 17-21, 21-19, 22-20. Levelling the tie at 2-2.

“I felt calm in that moment, as we were playing as if we had lost the match already. No pressure. It is an unbelievable result for us”, Ou added. 

This set up the women’s doubles to decide it. The reliable Chen Qing Chen/ Jia Yi Fan certainly did just that, dispatching Yuki Fukushima/ Sayaka Hirota 21-11, 21-6, securing the final for China once more.

The final
We will be treated to a China-Korea Sudirman Cup final for the fifth time. The finals day head-to-head is 3-2 in China’s favour, however, the last time they met was in the Gold Coast (2017) where a young and inexperienced Korea team took the trophy. 

Earlier in the day, Korea defeated Malaysia 3-1 and have the advantage of a longer recovery time. China will have to be still riding the wave of their epic semifinal which lasted incredibly over six hours.

The final starts at 2pm (local time)

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