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China to face Japan in Sudirman Cup semi-finals

SUZHOU - Defending champions China will face Japan in the semi-finals of badminton’s Sudirman Cup after they continued an impressive run through the tournament with a comprehensive victory over Indonesia on Friday.

China, who are clear favourites to retain the trophy for a record 13th time, ran away with the match 3-0.

Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong got off to a shaky start in the mixed doubles before coming back to win 13-21, 23-21, 21-11.

Compatriots Shi Yuqi and Chen Yufei then sealed the deal with their singles matches, sending off Anthony Sinisuka Ginting and Gregoria Mariska Tunjung in two sets.

This year’s edition of the biennial event, staged in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou, carries extra weight because results count towards qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Japan’s course to the semi-final has been more torturous than the hosts, with the team scraping past Thailand 3-2.

Women’s world number one Akane Yamaguchi lost to Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong 19-21, 21-17, 21-11 – another disappointing defeat after she was dispatched on Wednesday by South Korean An Se-young.

But Japan managed to claw their way back, with captain Takuro Hoki claiming a tense fifth match.

It was a bad day for the sport’s top players.

The men’s world number one, Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, had to withdraw from his singles game against Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia after an injury to his left hamstring.

It was salt in the wound for the European champions, who were knocked out of the tournament 3-1.

Malaysia progress to face South Korea on Saturday, after the four-time champions defeated Taiwan 3-1 in their Friday morning quarter-final.

South Korea’s decisive blow was delivered by An in her singles battle with Tai Tzu-ying where she triumphed 21-13, 22-20.

The final of the week-long tournament, the first major international sporting event held in China since Beijing ditched its tough zero-Covid policies in December, will take place Sunday. AFP