Home2022India's Historical Move at the Thomas Cup Finals

India’s Historical Move at the Thomas Cup Finals

India just wrote a new record in the history of the Thomas Cup Finals. For the first time, the country has qualified for the semifinals of the men's team badminton event.

 

This accomplishment was achieved after India surprisingly beat Malaysia with a tight score of 3-2 in the quarterfinal match which was held at Impact Arena, Bangkok, Thailand, on Thursday local time (12/5/2022). India's victory was determined through the last match where Pranoy H.S. easily defeated Leong Jun Hao in straight set 21-13, 21-8.

 

Malaysia's decision to assign Leong Jun Hao was actually a strategic move. Even though his ranking is far below Prannoy H.S. (23), Leong Jun Hao (124) won over Prannoy in the Badminton Asia Team Championships 2020, which made Leong lead their head-to-head count 1-0 over Prannoy. But on Thursday night in Bangkok, Leong Jun Hao couldn't repeat the same result. Apart from Prannoy, India's winning points were contributed by the world number eight pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty defeating Malaysian doubles Goh Sze Fei/Nur Izzuddin 21-19, 21-15 and former singles world number one Srikanth Kidambi who won 21-11, 21- 17 over Ng Tze Yong.

 

India’s next move, though, will be a tough one. In the semifinals, they will face Denmark who qualified for the semifinal after defeating Korea 3-2. 

 

Viktor Axelsen, the world's first singles number one, contributed his first point even though he was forced to compete for three games 13-21, 21-17, 21-19 against Heo Kwanghee. It was a victory that made Viktor Axelsen lead twice in three meetings. Another point for Denmark was granted by the pair Anders Skaarup Rasmussen/Frederik Sogaard who defeated Choi Solgyu/Kim Wonho 18-21, 23-21, 21-17. The victory made the score a draw 2-2, before eventually, Rasmus Gemke beat Lee Yun Gyu 21-19, 21-15.

 

On paper, when compared to Denmark, India only excel in the doubles. However, they have a good chance to also steal points from their singles players. In 2022, Viktor Axelsen and Lakshya Sen defeated each other. Lakshya won in the semifinals of the German Open. But Viktor Axelsen hit back a week later in the All England Open final. One point in the first double most likely belongs to Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty who have a good chance of beating world number nine Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen.

 

The second single could be a decisive step for both India and Denmark. Although Anders Antonsen is ranked higher at #3, Kidambi has what it takes to contribute points for India. In his last meeting, the world number 11 beat Antonsen in the quarter-finals of the Swiss Open 2022. A victory that made him reduce his loss to 2-3. It is possible that this semifinal match will last until the fifth party, down to the third single. Looking at his performance against Korea could make Denmark again choose Gemke over the more senior Hans-Kristian Viitinghus. Only, in the last meeting, Gemke lost to Prannoy in the 2021 World Championship.

 

Meanwhile, in the other semifinal, Kento Momota's convincing victory over Taiwan's mainstay Chou Tien Chen in two straight games 21-18, 21-13, became one of the keys for Japan to beat Chinese Taipei 3-2. This makes Momota expected to be the first player to take on for victory over Indonesia – the big one who will feature Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, the world's fifth-ranked badminton player. Ginting was also the key to Indonesia's 3-0 victory over China in the quarterfinals. Victory over Zhao Junpeng also became Anthony's first win in the 2022 Thomas Cup after in three appearances during the Group A elimination he always lost.

 

Despite their solid record in the men’s doubles, this time, Indonesia's strength is difficult to predict. All pairs in the Indonesian team always play well, including the impromptu pairs like the pair Mohammad Ahsan/Kevin Sanjaya who have played twice. But, the opponent they will face is not to underestimate. Japan has two pairs in the world's top 10, Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi (4) and Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda (5). 

 

Will the defending champion Indonesia be able to secure their ticket to the final over Japan who also wants to bring home the cup after their last title in 2014?

 

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