The Road to the Dream Finals
Four countries have confirmed that they qualify for the 2021 Sudirman Cup semifinals. China will face Korea and Japan will compete with Malaysia for the ticket to the final round after defeating their opponents in the quarter-final match held Friday (1/10) local time. Of the four matches, only Japan did not have to finish the match until the fifth round because they were able to win 3-1 over Chinese Taipei. Meanwhile, China, Korea, and Malaysia had to finish off their opponents with 3-2 wins.
China, which is the top seed, has to thank mixed doubles gold pair Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping who beat Denmark's Mathias Christiansen/Alexandra Boje 21-18, 21-12. China, which has won the Sudirman Cup eleven times, fell behind after the men's doubles pair of He Ji Ting/Zhou Hao Dong lost to Anders Skaarup Rasmussen/Frederik Sogaard. Another category that China dropped points in is the men's singles. Shi YuQi was defeated when faced against Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen.
Fortunately, Tokyo 2020 women's singles gold medalist Chen Yu Fei and Tokyo 2020 women's doubles silver medalist Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan won, despite Chen Yu Fei having to work hard and fight to three games to beat Mia Blichfeldt.
On the other hand, Korea, who was seeded 3/4, had to go through dramatic matches to beat Thailand. It was dramatic because, in the fifth or decisive match, the women's doubles pair Lee Sohee/Shin Seungchan won 21-19 in the third game over Jongkolphan Kititharakul/Sapsiree Taerattanachi after previously winning 21-11 and losing 17-21 in the second game. The other two wins for Korea were confirmed in the men's singles through Heo Kwanghee and An Seyoung in the women's singles.
In the men's singles, Heo Kwanghee will challenge Shi Yu Qi. His name began to gain attention after defeating the world number one and a strong candidate for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medal Kento Momota of Japan. Unfortunately in the quarter-finals, he was unstable and lost to Kevin Cordon from Guatemala. Heo Kwanghee's appearance is getting more mature in the 2021 Sudirman Cup. During this time, he had never met Shi Yu Qi.
The category that is no less fierce will be in the women's singles. An Se-young is going to meet Chen Yu Fei. Although she has always won in their five meetings, in the 2021 Sudirman Cup, Chen Yu Fei has not yet returned to the peak of her appearance.
One other match that could make China lose points is in the men's doubles. The representative of China, He Ji Ting/Zhou Hao Dong, is still not as tough as the Li Junhui/Liu Yu Chen pair. Unlike the other two categories, women's doubles and mixed doubles, where China has a huge chance to secure points.
Korea's meeting with China is predicted to be fierce. It is possible that it will be completed again up to the fifth match.
In another semi-final, Japan is seeded and will advance to the final for the third time in the history of the Sudirman Cup, after 2015 and 2019. Moreover, Japan and Malaysia have already met each other in the preliminary round. Then in Group D, Japan won 4-1. The only loss was in the men's doubles when Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi lost to Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik, who are Tokyo 2020 bronze medalists.
Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik also contributed points when Malaysia surprised Indonesia by defeating the world number one pair Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo/Marcus Fernaldi Gideon. Their victory helped light a spark amongst their teammates as they defeated their opponents in the first round.
Meanwhile, in the other four categories, Malaysia's chances of scoring points are rather slim. In the men’s singles, Lee Zii Jia lost in the group stage with two straight games 21-18, 21-10. A result that made him unable to repeat his success at the All England 2021 when he won 21-16, 21-19. Besides that, in the other three categories of women's singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles, Japan’s representatives will become difficult opponents for the Malaysian team.