DONGGUAN, China (AFP) - China eliminated Indonesia on Saturday after winning tightly-contested matches at the Sudirman Cup, setting up for a showdown with Japan, which reached the finals for the first time.
Indonesia fell 3-1 in the semi-finals to powerhouse hosts China, losing in the men's and women's singles and the women's doubles.
Chinese badminton star Chen Long, who walked onto the court in Dongguan to loud applause, controlled the first game against Indonesia's Christie Jonatan but eked out the win after a tight second game in the men's singles with a final score of 21-10, 21-15.
"In the second game... I had a similar performance with the Indonesian player. I was quite conservative in my play and he was aggressive," Chen told reporters after the match.
Chen said he did not have a preference as to who will be in the men's singles match in the tournament finals on Sunday, between himself and compatriot Lin Dan.
"All that matters is that China wins the finals, and not which one will be playing," he said.
Indonesia's Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan started off strong, winning the first game of the day in the men's doubles, despite loud cheers for the Chinese duo Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng from the thousands watching.
The Indonesian pair continued to control the second game and won 16-21, 17-21.
In the women's singles, Indonesia's Bellaetrix Manuputty retired after suffering a leg injury during the first game, while leading top seed Li Xuerui 3-5.
Indonesia's Nitya Krishinda Maheswari and Greysia Polii were unable to keep their team's hopes alive in the women's doubles against China's Tang Yuanting and Yu Yang.
The Indonesian pair won their first game but that was the side's only good news as their opponents improved their play and won the next two games, as the crowds got louder in their support for the home team.
"In the first game, we were both very nervous so we didn't play very well, we gradually got better and we also had great determination to do some contribution for our team," Yu told reporters after the win.
Later on Saturday, Japan reached the Sudirman Cup finals for the first time after they ousted a strong South Korean team, winning 2-3, booking a place in Sunday's final against China.
Japan lost the men's doubles, but Nozomi Okuhara turned the tide by beating Sung Ji Hyun in the women's singles.
"I'm happy that I won the game and that I contributed to the team," Okuhara told reporters after the game.
Japan fell to South Korea in the men's singles with Takuma Ueda losing to fifth seed Son Wan Ho 21-9, 22-20.
The score was then evened out by a strong performance by Japan's women's doubles duo and first seed Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi, who controlled both games against Chang Ye Na and Jung Kyung Eun 17-21, 8-21.
Japan's mixed doubles duo then continued their team's winning ways, defeating eighth seeded Kim Ha Na and Ko Sung Hyun 14-21, 15-21.