New Delhi: Japan created the biggest upset of the Thomas Cup 2014 when they thrashed nine-time champions China in the semi-finals, here on Friday.
The 0-3 defeat, worst in Chinese badminton history in recent years, also dashed their hopes of winning the prestigious title for the sixth time in a row.
China failed to advance to the Thomas Cup final for the first time since their 1-3 defeat against Malaysia, when they hosted the event in Guangzhou, in 2002.
Interestingly, world champion Lin Dan, considered one of the greatest players in the history of the game, didn’t get a chance to play at the Siri Fort Complex on Friday, as the match got over after three.
Since he is ranked only 58 in the world, Lin Dan was slated to play the fifth match against Sho Sasaki.
Not many expected China to crumble, but once Kenichi Tago got the better of world No. 2 Chen Long, Japan got into the driver’s seat.
Long was unusually subdued against world No. 4 Tago’s persistent attacks and succumbed rather tamely at 13-21, 11-21.
Before the Chinese could recover from the shock, Japan increased the lead by winning the doubles.
The Japanese pair of Kenichi Hayakawa and Hiroyuki Endo displayed grit and determination to beat Chai Biao and Hong Wei 22-20, 21-19.
Thereafter, Kento Momota, the 2012 world junior champion, completed the rout for Japan by rallying from a game down to beat Du Pengyu 23-25, 21-18, 21-14.
The match lasted for 85 minutes before teenager Momota clinched victory.
“This is an unexpected result for sure,” said Japan’s Korean coach Park Joo-Bong, a former world and Olympic champion in doubles.
“But what surprised us even more was Momoto’s win in the third match that gave us the tie. A loss there could have made it a bit tough for us.
“If China had won the next match, the second doubles, there was Lin Dan waiting in the last game. And very few people beat him these days.
“We will go into the final with a lot of confidence. Hopefully we can win the Thomas Cup for the first time,” he said.
The Chinese girls, however, did not disappoint their fans and reached the Uber Cup final after beating 2010 champions Korea 3-0.