Uber Cup semifinals: Japan falls again
Date: 5/14/2022 7:02 AM
Published by : Yash Sharma (BEC)

In what was reminiscent of a disastrous and heartbreaking display at home in the Tokyo Olympics, Japanese women could not rise to the occasion. Despite being the overwhelming favourites, they were blanked out by the Koreans 3-0. 

Yamaguchi takes the blame

A game up and leading 14-8 in the second, the world number one and reigning world champion Akane Yamaguchi was unable to clinch the opener. She also led 11-6 and 18-15 in the decider. However, she lost the plot against an exhausted, yet feisty An Seyoung. It was no big surprise though, given the Japanese ace’s shocking loss to Biqlis Prasista two days back. 

Her failure in maintaining the lead, owing to the inability to control the crucial moments would result in inconsolable sobs. In tune with her being blamed for the Sudirman Cup final loss to China in 2019, Akane Yamaguchi would go on to bear the brunt of yet another unexpected loss.

The current All England champion lost to the runner-up 15-21, 21-18, 21-18 in a punishing match.

Matsuyama/ Chida fade away

Too desperate to put Japan back in the contest, Nami Matsuyama/ Chiharu Shida rushed things so much that they ended up making scores of unforced errors. Pumped by their young compatriot’s momentous victory, Lee Sohee/ Shin Seungchan rose to the occasion to put Korea further ahead at 2-0. 

Shin Seungchan was spectacular both in her defence and at the net, winning 21-16, 21-17. 

Kim Gaeun seals the deal

In the all-important match for Japan, it was up to a sub-par Nozomi Okuhara to keep things going. However, Kim Gaeun came up with all the necessary firepower to subdue her opponent. However, a clinical display by the former world champion in the second made Gaeun a little uncertain. 

Leading 11-4 in the decider, Okuhara gave in to her nerves. She was in a winning position, which put even further pressure on the Japanese to get a point. The hero of the fairy tale Kim Gaeun was flawless as she won 11 of the next 12 points.

She eventually won 21-12, 11-21, 21-16. 

The last hurdle 

While Japan succumbed under pressure, their opponents punched above their weight in a remarkable takedown. Korea exacted the two consecutive losses in the same tournament at the same stage to Japan. 

However, a bigger challenge awaits them in the final today. The underdogs face China, who have an aura of invincibility about them. Having lost just three games in 21 matches so far, the Chinese defeated the home favourites Thailand 3-0 in the semifinal.

In doing so, they avenged their loss in the same arena to the same team in 2018. While Chen Yufei has found her Tokyo-winning form at the right time, He Bingjiao is playing some of her best-ever badminton this year. In contrast, Chen Qingchen/ Jia Yifan looked a bit shaken yesterday. However, the back-end of the Chinese line-up is well rested and a testament to their depth.

With the likes of Huang Dponping/ Li Wenmei and Wang Zhiyi capable enough of taking on even the first doubles and singles players of any other team, Korea needs to step up another rung to conclude their swan song. 

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