Chen Yu Fei, Lee Zii Jia lift China, Malaysia to Sudirman Cup semi-finals

Olympic champions deliver victories for both sides as defending champions China knocks out Denmark from the Sudirman Cup while South Korea, Malaysia also make the semis.

By Sanjeev Palar
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

China ensured their 17th consecutive semi-final appearance at the Sudirman Cup when they defeated Denmark 3-2 in Vantaa, Finland on Friday (1 October). They'll be joined by Malaysia, which beat out the team from Indonesia in an intense battle that came down to the final mixed doubles matchup.

The nail-biting quarter-finals match saw Olympic champions Chen Yu Fei and Viktor Axelsen deliver victories for their respective nations but the reigning champions had more depth to their squad as Tokyo 2020 gold medallists Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping delivered the decisive win to secure a final four appearance.

Denmark picked up the opening point when Anders Skaarup Rasmussen's scratch pairing with Frederik Sogaard defeated He Ji Ting and Zhou Hao Dong in the men's doubles encounter.

Rasmussen is without his Tokyo 2020 partner Kim Astrup who is sitting out the tournament with an injury. The Danes were pushed to three games by the Chinese pair but prevailed 17-21, 21-16, 21-19.

Reigning Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei quickly leveled the score for China when she came back from a game down against Mia Blichfeldt in the women's singles to snatch victory 18-21, 21-8, 21-17.

Denmark's Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen was next on court and only needed two sets to see off world number ten Shi Yuqi. The two last met in the quarter-finals at Tokyo 2020 and Axelsen repeated the result in Japan, winning the match 21-17, 21-14 to restore Denmark's advantage.

Viktor Axelsen defeats Shi Yuqi in their semi-finals encounter at the 2021 Sudirman Cup
Picture by Badmintonphoto | Courtesy of BWF

Tokyo 2020 women's doubles silver medallists Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan kept China's hopes of victory alive with a commanding straight sets victory over Maiken Fruergaard and Sara Thygesen. The world number two pairing from Asia took the win 21-10, 21-13.

It then came down to the mixed doubles encounter between Olympic champions Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping against Mathias Christiansen and Alexandra Boje. The Danes held a surprise seven point lead at the halfway point of the opening game but the Chinese players soon found their rhythm and recovered to win the match 21-18, 21-12.

The victory over Denmark keeps China in the hunt for their 12th Sudirman Cup title and will next face South Korea in the semi-finals on Saturday (2 October) after their narrowly beat Thailand 3-2 in their quarter-final match in Finland.

Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik gave Malaysia an early 1-0 lead after beating Indonesia’s Marcus Fernando Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in the opening men’s doubles match.

Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung tied the overall score at 1-1, after defeating Kisona Selvaduray in a close contest in the women’s singles. Tunjung ended the three set match victorious, 22-20, 18-21, 21-19.

Lee Zii Jia continued the back-and-forth nature of the match, giving Malaysia the 2-1 advantage after defeating Anthony Sinisuka Ginting. Lee dominated, 21-11, 21-16.

The women’s doubles match between Malaysia’s Tan Pearly and Thinaah Muralitharan and Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu was a duel with the Malaysian duo grabbing the first set 22-20. The second set was a tight battle with Tan and Thinaah grabbing a narrow win, 21-17, and setting up a decisive third set.

Polii and Rahayu got off to a strong 6-3 lead to open the third set. They maintained that lead, winning the match 21-18, and forced the mixed doubles match up to be the decider.

Hoo Pang Ron and Cheah Yea See of Malaysia raced to an early lead, 5-2, but Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti of Indonesia quickly drew even at 6-6. Hoo and Cheah took the first game of the mixed doubles, 21-19. Jordan and Oktavianti responded with a decisive 21-9 win in Game 2. 

Hoo and Cheah pulled away in Game 3 after a back-and-forth at the open. They won 21 to 16, giving Malaysia a spot in the semi finals.