Reigning champion Japan and fellow East Asian squad Korea posted contrasting wins against Southeast Asian powerhouses Malaysia and Thailand to move to the championship round of the 2020 SMART Badminton Asia Manila Team Championships, Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Led by former world no. 1 Akane Yamaguchi, Japan made short work of the Malaysians, 3-0, to shoot for its second straight title for the championships in this tournament backed by SMART Communications, Inc., MVP Sports Foundation, Leisure and Resorts World Corporation, Cignal, and TV5.
Sayaka Takashi sent the defending champions into the final after dominating Selvaduray Kisona in a 45-minute duel, 21-13, 21-13.
Yamaguchi first exacted revenge on Soniia Cheah in the opening singles match with a tight 21-17, 21-18 victory, putting the Japanese on the board. Cheah took the lead for the Malaysians in their group phase encounter in three games.
In the other semifinal tie, Korea emerged from a marathon battle against Thailand to join Japan in the winner-take-all tie.
Korea finished in third place during the 2018 edition of the tournament.
Kim Seo Yeong and Kong Hee Yong eventually took control of the third game, 21-13, to subdue Chayanit Chaladchalam and Phataimas Muenwong in the second doubles match.
Korea even took the 2-0 advantage when An Se Young and the duo of Lee Seo Hee and Shin Seung Chan took down Busanan Ongbamrungpohan, and Jongkolphan Kitithatrakul and Rawinda Prajongjai respectively. An defeated Ongbamrungpohan, 24-22, 21-17; meanwhile, Lee and Shin outlasted their Thai opponents with 12-21, 21-19, 21-11.
Pornpawee Chachuwong derailed Korea’s passage with an 18-21, 21-18, 23-21, win over Sung Ji Hyun, but Kim and Kong eventually took the win for the Koreans.
The final tie between Japan and Korea will happen on Sunday, February 16, at 10 a.m.