BANGKOK (AFP) – World No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi suffered a second defeat in three days at the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Thailand on Friday (May 13), as Japan were dumped out in the semi-finals by South Korea.
An Se-young’s battling win over Yamaguchi set the Koreans on their way to a 3-0 victory and a place in Saturday’s final of the women’s team championship against China.
Holders China defeated hosts Thailand by the same 3-0 scoreline in Bangkok in the other semi-final.
Cheered on by her Japanese teammates whacking drums and shaking tambourines, world champion Yamaguchi dominated the first game 21-15 against world No. 4 An.
She also looked in control early in the second game, but the 20-year-old An was able to turn around a six-point deficit.
A spate of unforced errors from Yamaguchi also contributed to An’s change of fortunes as she won the second game 21-18.
Yamaguchi carved out a five-point lead in the deciding game but a seven-point run from An saw Yamaguchi’s frustrations grow.
An epic 44-shot rally took its toll on the Japanese as An levelled the scores at 18-18.
Two critical errors from Yamaguchi saw the youngster gain the upper hand and then seal the match 21-18, before lying on the floor screaming in delight.
“During the game I tried to increase the speed of the shuttle but… I would lose control, it caused many mistakes,” the 24-year-old told reporters.
On Wednesday, she suffered a shock loss to Bilqis Prasista, a teenage Indonesian rookie ranked 333rd in the world.
Lee So-hee and Shin Seung-chan put the Koreans two up when they beat Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida 21-16, 21-17 while Kim Ga-eun completed the job by outlasting Nozomi Okuhara 21-12, 11-21, 21-16.
Chen Yufei gave the Chinese a solid start when she beat Ratchanok Intanon 21-18, 21-12.
Then Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan overcame Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai 17-21, 21-13, 21-15 before He Bingjiao wrapped up the tie with a 21-15, 21-15 win over Pornpawee Chochuwong.