Momota loses but Japan progress to set up Sudirman Cup final against China

In a repeat of the last year's final, Japan will face China in the championship match of the Sudirman cup after they beat Malaysia 3-1, while China crushed South Korea 3-0 in the semi-finals in Finland.

By Sanjeev Palar
Picture by Badmintonphoto | Courtesy of BWF

Japan will once again contend for badminton's mixed team world championship title after beating Malaysia 3-1 in the semi-finals of the 2021 Sudirman Cup in Vantaa, Finland.

For a third time in the tournament's history they will meet China in the final, after the defending champions crushed South Korea 3-0 in their semi-final earlier in the day.

Japan took on Malaysia for the second time in three days, having beat them 4-1 in the final group stage match on Thursday.

They looked for a repeat result and got off to a winning start when Hoki Takuro and Kobayashi Yugo redeemed themselves by beating Tokyo 2020 bronze medallists Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik, who beat them in the group stage.

The Japanese duo took victory 21-15, 21-14.

World number five Yamaguchi Akane then made it 2-0 for Japan when she swept past women's singles world number 53 Kisona Selvaduray 21-7, 21-5.

The leaders then looked to their world number one, Momota Kento to repeat his win over Lee Zii Jia and seal victory. Everything was going according to plan for the two-time world champion, who led 11-8 at the halfway point of the opening game. However, the Malaysian captain put on an extraordinary display to claw himself back into contention and stole the opening game 22-20.

The second game was an equally close encounter but Lee was able to edge ahead and avenge his earlier defeat, taking victory 22-20, 21-19 and extending a lifeline to the south east Asian nation's hopes of making their first final appearance.

Lee Zii Jia defeats Momota Kento in the semi-finals of the 2021 Sudirman Cup
Picture by Badmintonphoto | Courtesy of BWF

With a two point lead Japan, known for its strength in women's doubles, fielded a scratch pairing of 2016 Olympic champion Matsutomo Misaki and two-time world champion Mayu Matsumoto against Malaysia's world number 19 pairing of Thinaah Muralitharan and Pearly Tan.

The Malaysians got off to the better start and led at the opening mid-game interval. However the experience of the Japanese duo began to shine through as the match progressed and they went on to snatch a straight sets victory 21-19, 21-17.

The win sealed the semi-finals encounter in Japan's favour, 3-1, and they will face China in Sunday's final.

China one step away from title defence after sweeping past South Korea

Earlier in the day, badminton giants China crushed South Korea 3-0 to book a place in the final.

Newly crowned Olympic gold medallist pairing Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping as well as fellow Olympic champ Chen Yu Fei helped secure victory for the reigning mixed team world champions.

In the mixed doubles Wang and Huang beat the scratch pairing from South Korea, Seo Seungjae and Shin Seungchan, in straight sets 21-14, 21-15 to take the opening point on offer.

World number ten, Shi Yuqi then doubled the lead for China when he came from behind to beat Heo Kwanghee 17-21, 21-9, 21-11.

China's Shi Yuqi wins his semi-finals encounter at the 2021 Sudirman Cup
Picture by Badmintonphoto | Courtesy of BWF

The attention then fell on Olympic champion Chen, who had the opportunity to finish off the best-of-five matches encounter with a win against teenage world number eight An Seyoung.

The South Korean took the opening game against a slow starting Chen, but when the world number two finally found her rhythm, she took control of the encounter and went on to clinch victory 14-21, 21-15, 21-15.

Her victory sealed the encounter with the men's and women's doubles pairs not needing to take to the court, ensuring they'll be well rested ahead of the finals and the aim to lift the Sudirman Cup for the 12th time.

The final between China and Japan will commence at 1:00pm (local time) on Sunday (3 October).