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Thomas Cup: Indonesia, China set up title showdown

Aarhus – Two of the most successful teams in Thomas Cup history — China and Indonesia — will battle it out for the prestigious trophy again after both sides fought back from being a point down to win their respective semi-final ties with identical 3-1 scores at the Ceres Arena, here, yesterday.

Reigning champions China checked into the final for the 13th time by ousting Japan while Indonesia qualified for the final for the 20th time after eliminating hosts Denmark.

This will be the sixth title showdown between China and Indonesia, with China emerging victorious in 1982, 1986 and 2010 and Indonesia triumphing in 1984 and 2000.

Indonesia, the most successful team in Thomas Cup history with 13 titles, kept their cool despite losing the first singles when Tokyo Olympic gold medallist and world number two Viktor Axelsen put the hosts 1-0 ahead by outlasting Olympic bronze medalist Anthony Sinisuka Ginting 21-9, 21-15.

Indonesia’s world number one doubles pair of Marcus Fenaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo restored parity with a hard-fought 21-13, 10-21, 21-15 win over Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen.

World number seven Jonatan Christie, 24, then put Indonesia 2-1 ahead after slogging for 100 minutes to dispose of Anders Antonsen 25-23, 15-21, 21-16.

“Firstly, I would like to thank God for helping me… 100 minutes, wow! I can’t explain anymore but I just focused on one point at a time. Played the best I could and (when) I could read his game plan, I became more motivated.

“He played very fast, he is intelligent in attack. I had to slow down the rhythm and go for long rallies to win,” Jonatan said.

It was then left to Fajar Alfian-Muhammad Rian Ardianto to seal the winning point for Indonesia, who are looking to end a 19-year title drought after last lifting the trophy aloft in 2002, when they pair brushed aside Mathias Christiansen-Frederik Sogaard 21-14, 21-14.

In the other semi-final, Japan drew first blood when China’s Shi Yu Qi, who was trailing 20-22, 5-20 against world number one Kento Momota, decided to retire due to injury.

Ten-time champions China, however, fought back to level the tie at 1-1 through He Ji Ting-Zhou Hao Dong, who beat Takuro Hoki-Yuta Watanabe 21-17, 7-21, 21-16.

Twenty-one-year-old Li Shi Feng, the world number 65, then produced a stunning 21-17, 21-15 win over world number 13 Kanta Tsuneyawa to put China 2-1 ahead before Liu Cheng-Wang Yi Lyu sealed the deal with a 21-11, 22-20 victory over Akira Koga-Taichi Saito. — Bernama

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