China leads the way to Thomas, Uber Cup semis

New Delhi: Badminton powerhouse China led a parade of top nations into the semi-finals of the men`s Thomas Cup and the women`s Uber Cup team championships in New Delhi on Thursday.

World champion Lin Dan was not even required to play the fifth match as the Chinese men, seeking a record sixth consecutive title, flattened Thailand 3-0 in the day`s first quarter-final.

China`s next opponent will be 2012 semi-finalist Japan, who survived a shock defeat for world number four Kenichi Tago to end new entrant France`s dreams in the 16-nation event.

Tago was taken out by the 31st ranked Brice Leverdez in the opening singles, with the Frenchman winning 21-14, 15-21, 21-16 in an hour and six minutes.

But France`s hopes of making the semi-finals in their maiden Thomas Cup appearance were dashed as the Japanese breezed through the next three matches without dropping a game.

"I am happy, for myself and the whole team," Leverdez, a 27-year-old from Paris, told AFP. "It is always satisfying to beat a top player, so of course I am very happy.

"But I am also proud of the way our young team has responded. We have done well in our first Thomas Cup. We showed we belong here."

The second men`s semi-final will feature Malaysia against former champions Indonesia, who ousted 2012 runners-up South Korea 3-2 in a late night thriller.

The Indonesians led 2-1 before doubles specialists Kim Ki-Jung and Kim Sa-Rang drew level for the Koreans by winning the fourth match against Ryan Saputra and Angga Pratama.

The 34th-ranked Simon Santoso won the decider against Hwang Jong-Soo 21-12, 22-20 to keep the 13-time champions in the hunt for their first title since 2002.

Malaysia, who won the last of their five Thomas Cup titles in 1992, beat Denmark 3-1 after world number one Lee Chong Wei gave them the lead with a three-game win over the third-ranked Jan O Jorgensen.

Denmark drew level by winning the first doubles, before Chong Wei Feng took the second singles and Goh Shem and Tan Wee Kiong sealed Malaysia`s win through the second doubles.

The Chinese women, whose 12 Uber Cup titles include seven in the last eight editions, proved too strong for unfancied England during a 3-0 win.

China`s semi-final opponents will be old foes South Korea, who defeated teenage world champion Ratchanok Intanon`s Thailand 3-1.

The Koreans, who halted China`s winning sequence in 2010 before losing to them in the final two years ago, saw their top player Sung Ji-Hyun beaten by Intanon in straight games.

That was Thailand`s only point in the tie as the Koreans won both the doubles and the second singles to set up an intriguing semi-final against the defending champions.

In the other women`s semi-final, Japan will clash with hosts India, who stunned Indonesia 3-0 to make the last four in the Uber Cup for the first time.

Saina Nehwal gave India the lead with a 21-17, 21-10 win over Lindaweni Fanetri, before P.V. Sindhu beat Bellaetrix Manuputty in a three-game marathon which ended at 25-23 in the decider.

Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa took the doubles to clinch the tie amidst drum-beating celebrations from some 1,000 Indian fans.

"Before the tournament started, we had aimed to make the semi-finals and we have done it," said world number eight Nehwal. "Japan will obviously be tough, but we too have the confidence to do well."

Japan outclassed Denmark 3-0, with Minatsu Mitani and Sayaka Takahashi winning their singles matches in between a doubles success for Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi.

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