A BATTLE-weary Japan battled on to reach the Thomas Cup semi-finals for the first time after dumping Germany 3-1 last night.
All-England runner-up Kenichi Tago was stretched by seasoned German singles player Marc Zwiebler before prevailing 15-21, 21-18, 21-18.
Hiroyuki Endo-Yoshiteru Hirobe took to the court for the first time but failed to stretch the lead for Japan. Nerves got the better of the newly-formed Japanese pair in crucial moments and they fell to a 21-16, 19-21, 22-24 defeat by Michael Fuchs-Kristof Hopp.
Dieter Domke, who had created a big upset when he downed Dane Jan O Jorgensen on Tuesday, failed to counter the sharp attacks of Sho Sasaki. The Japanese went on to win 21-19, 21-17.
And the reliable doubles pair of Kenichi Hayakawa-Kenta Kazuno did not disappoint as they brushed aside Ingo Kindervater-Johannes Schoettler 21-16, 21-16 in 31 minutes to give Japan the winning point.
Japan coach Park Joo-bong was grinning from ear-to-ear as his team continued with their fine form.
Japan had achieved the unthinkable by beating Malaysia 3-2 on Tuesday and Joo-bong said that they were living the dream.
“After yesterday, everyone who played was very tired. They showed strong determination to keep their momentum going,” he said.
“Tago’s form was out a little bit as he still had not recovered after playing against Lee Chong Wei the previous night. If he had lost the first singles match, we would have been shaky.
“As for the first doubles, they also played well but were not experienced as they only started out together early this year.”
Joo-bong added he was happy with the overall performance of his charges.
“We have never made it to the semi-finals.
“We reached the quarter-finals in the last three Thomas Cup and it is unbelievable that we are still remaining in the competition,” he said.
Japan will take on Indonesia in the semi-finals tomorrow.