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Japan stun Indonesia, China the only former champs left

Japan stunend Indonesia 3-2 while hosts China were the only former Thomas Cup champions to reach the semi-finals after the last eight matches ended on Wednesday.

China, the eight-time champions, who are aiming to equal Indonesia’s record of winning five consecutive Thomas Cup titles, crushed five-time champions Malaysia 3-0. They will now play Japan, who stunned 13-times winners Indonesia.

The other semi-finals will be between European champions Denmark (left), and South Korea. The Danes crushed Russia 3-0 in the quarter-finals while the Koreans hammered Germany by the same score.

Japanese youngster Kenichi Tago’s (below), stunning 21-12, 21-17  victory over former world and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat paved the way for Japan to register their upset victory and stop Indonesia's proud record of always reaching the semi-finals.

Tago was elated to have beaten a player he grew up idolises, saying: “Taufik is my hero, but on the court, in the Thomas Cup, he was an enemy. Now that the match is over, I will go back to admiring him.”

Former world No. 1 Taufik was gracious in defeat, but lamented the fact his younger compatriots are not making their mark on the world stage.

With retirement looming either after this year’s London Olympics or next year’s World Championships, Taufik said: “He played well and control the match. I’m just sad to lose to a young Japanese player. I rather lose to a young Indonesian.”

China’s world, Asian and Olympic champion Lin Dan, was given a slight scare by Liew Daren before beating Malaysia’s second ranked player 17-21, 21-9, 21-5 to give his country the lead in the quarter-final tie.

Daren was promoted to the first singles as world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei had twisted his ankle in the match against Denmark’s Peter Gade on Tuesday and is expected to be out of action for three to four weeks.

While there have been doubts surrounding Daren’s mental strength and potential prior to the Thomas Cup, he has showed great heart in all three matches he has played in.

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