The Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand has become a nightmare for the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup defending champions.

In the Uber Cup 14-time winners and defending champions, China was packed off by host Thailand 3-2 in the semi-finals, defending Thomas Cup champions Denmark followed suit, ousted by Japan by a similar scoreline on Friday.

Japan, the host for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, rode on their singles with all the three “Ks” in the team – Kento Momota (first singles); Kenta Nishimoto (second singles) and Kanta Tsuneyama (third singles) – winning all their matches in straight games.

Denmark, on the other hand, won both the doubles matches, through Mathias Boe-Mads Conrad-Petersen and Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen but it did not help the champions.

Newly crowned Badminton Asia singles champion Momota got Japan off to a fiery start when he defeated current world No 1 and world champion Viktor Axelsen 21-17, 21-9 in 40 minutes.

Boe-Conrad Petersen came through a 21-18, 21-15 win over Japan’s top doubles pair Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda to make it 1-1 for the night.

Nishimoto defeated Han-Kristian Vittinghus, Denmark’s match-winning hero in the 2016 final against Indonesia, 21-19, 21-12 to put his team 2-1 up but it was it was all square again after the second doubles.

Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen kept Denmark in the fight by winning the second doubles against Takuto Inoue-Yuki Kaneko 17-21, 21-16, 21-15 in a 77-minute thriller.

In the deciding third singles, it was left to Tsuneyama and Jorgensen and the Japanese clinched a 21-18, 21-11 victory for the winning point which left the Dane and his team shattered.

The 30-year-old Dane, who came back to competitive badminton after a long lay-off due to a career-threatening foot injury, was too dazed and distraught with the defeat that he requested to be left alone for sometime before he left the court.
Japan last reached the Thomas Cup final in 2014 in New Delhi. The Japanese defeated Malaysia 3-2 for their first ever Thomas Cup title.

In the final on Sunday, Japan will play China, who beat Indonesia 3-1 in their semi-final match.RIZAL ABDULLAH

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