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The Battle of Badminton Powerhouses

Oct 16th, 2021
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China and Indonesia both won a perfect 3-0 victory in the quarter-finals of the 2021 Thomas Cup. In the match which was held in Aarhus, Denmark, Friday local time, China defeated Thailand and Indonesia put Malaysia’s resistance to halt.


 

China vs Japan

 

In the semifinals match which will be held today on Saturday afternoon, China will face Japan and Indonesia will be challenged by the tournament hosts. Japan reached the top four after struggling to beat Korea 3-2, while Denmark lost only one point when facing India.

 

Japan was expected to have picked up the initial points but at the first match, Kento Momota got defeated by Korea’s Heo Kwanghee with a score of 21-19, 21-17. This sends similar feelings to what happened at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics when Kento Momota was defeated on the preliminary stage.

 

The fact that Heo Kwanghee who was currently ranked 33 could defeat Kento Momota showed us that there’s a good chance for Chinese singles player Shi Yu Qi, ranked #10, to win. Moreover, in the last meeting in the Sudirman Cup final two weeks ago, Shi Yu Qi won three games 21-13, 8-21, 21-12 against Momota. A victory that reduced the gap in their meeting records to 3-4.

 

However, if Japan put their first doubles Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi (ranked #16) in the second game, it’s more of a 50:50 situation with China’s He Ji Ting/Zhou Hao Dong (ranked 1,159). The two pairs have never met before. Despite the gap in their ranks, Hoki/Kobayashi failed to contribute points in the quarter-finals, unlike He/Zhou who won and showed that they’re one pair to be anticipated.

 

At the third game, China’s Li Shi Feng (ranked #65) will face Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama (ranked #13). Looking at the rank, it looks like the force is in Tsuneyama’s favor. Moreover, he had just saved Japan from defeat by Korea yesterday. His victory over Jeon Hyeok-jin made the 2014 Thomas Cup champions rise from being down 0-2 to becoming victorious with a 3-2 win.

 

If after three games the winner can’t be decided yet, the second double of Japan, Akira Koga/Yuta Watanabe, who is an impromptu pair, has a greater chance of winning over Liu Cheng/Wang Yilvu. Both of these pairs are an impromptu duo so they have never met. However, looking at their performance against Korea, Akira Koga/Yuta Watanabe could score a point.

 

If the fourth game ends up a tie and both countries are forced to play the fifth match, Kenta Nashimoto can become a hero for his country again just like when he defeated Korea. Kenta Nishimoto (ranked #16th), ranks much better than China’s singles player Weng Hong Yang, who is seated at 148th in the world.

 

However, as we all have been aware of, all these rankings are not a guarantee of victory in court. Strategy and stamina on the field play important roles.


 

Indonesia vs Denmark

 

Likewise in the other semifinal match between Indonesia and Denmark. Looking at the badminton rankings of the two countries in a draw, the host excels in singles while Indonesia is in the doubles.

 

In singles, Denmark has Viktor Axelsen, ranked 2nd, and Anders Antonsen, ranked 3rd. Meanwhile, in doubles, Indonesia has Kevin Sanjaya/Marcus Fernaldi Gideon, ranked 1st, and Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan, ranked 2nd.

 

In the first game, looking at his last performances, Viktor Axelsen is certainly in favor to beat Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, who is ranked 5th in the world. Their meeting record is a draw of 4-4. In just two encounters, at the 2020 World Tour Finals and the 2020 Thailand Open, Axelsen came out as the winner. Moreover Axelsen is at the peak of his appearance by winning the 2020 Tokyo Olympic gold medal. However, Ginting is also gaining his confidence thanks to his victory over Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia, who initially defeated him at the Sudirman Cup. His victory lifted the spirit of his colleagues and helped Indonesia beat Malaysia 3-0 straight at the quarter-finals.

 

In doubles, Indonesia has a great opportunity to take points through “the Minions” pair, Kevin Sanjaya/Marcus Fernaldi Gideon. The win over Malaysian doubles Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik, who beat the Indonesian pair in the quarter-finals of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, was seen as a great comeback. In the men's doubles, Denmark will place Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen, ranked 11th in the world. The meeting record favors Kevin/Marcus with a 7-1 advantage. The only defeat Sanjaya/Gideon had was at the Indonesia Open 2017.

 

In the second singles match, Antonsen is certainly optimistic that he can beat Jonathan Christie, who is ranked below him at 7th. Moreover, in the last meeting of the two at the Indonesia Masters 2020, Antonsen excelled. Although looking at their meeting records, Jonathan still has a 4-3 advantage.

 

In the second doubles match, it is very likely that the senior pair Hendra Setiawan/Mohammad Ahsan will not play. Indonesia will put their trust in the world's #7 doubles, Fajar Alfian/M. Rian Ardianto. Both of them showed promising performances when they faced the Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion pair from Chinese Taipei Lee Yang/Wang Chi-Lin. In the second doubles match, Denmark, like when they faced India in the quarter-finals, will put their trust in Mathias Christiansen/Frederik Sogaard. This pair is an impromptu pair because Christiansen is better known in mixed doubles. Apparently, on the court, this pair has shown how solid they are by being determined by Denmark to the semifinals.

 

If by the end of the 4th game the draw is 2-2, of course the third singles match will be decisive. Indonesia has Shesar Hiren Rustavito, ranked 19th, and Denmark relies on Rasmus Gemke, ranked 12th. The two met once at the All England 2020 and Gemke won with a rubber game.

 

  Of all the semifinalists, all four have lifted the Thomas Cup. Denmark and Japan have won once, China has collected 10 titles, and Indonesia has won the most with 13 titles to their name.

 


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