World No. 5 Peter Gade warned China that Denmark were capable of beating the holders after his side downed a gutsy Taiwan 3-1 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Sudirman Cup.
Denmark, Europe’s best badminton team, were to play a weakened Indonesia yesterday after they came from behind to end Japan’s challenge at the world mixed team championships, one of the sport’s most prestigious tournaments.
Hosts China, the overwhelming favorites to claim their fourth Sudirman Cup title on the bounce, were to play South Korea in the other semi, also yesterday. The final is today.
“The semi-final was the goal of the team and no matter who we play, we have a very good chance and we are really going for it,” Gade said after he stormed back to see off the unheralded Hsueh Hsuan-yi over three thrilling games. “We have a team that on a good day can beat anyone, even China, but China are still the favorites.
“For the Denmark team, the goal was to get in the semi-final and get a medal, but the dream was to get in the final and face China in their own home, in this stadium. We’ll go after the dream and see what happens,” he added.
Denmark were already a match up thanks to their mixed doubles when the veteran Gade took to the court in the Chinese coastal city of Qingdao. It turned out to be far closer than anyone had anticipated as the 25-year-old Taiwanese Hsueh, ranked a lowly 60 in the world, pushed Gade all the way.
Hsueh came from behind to take the first game 22-20 and if that was good, he was even better at the start of the second.
At 5-4, Hsueh twice somehow managed to claw the shuttlecock off the floor when sprawled on all fours, springing back to his feet to eventually go 6-4 up, to roars of approval from the crowd.
Gade, a hugely popular figure in China, looked shell-shocked, but the 34-year-old composed himself and suddenly the young Taiwanese could get nothing right, making a series of unforced errors to gift the Dane the second game 21-15.
Gade’s experience told in the third, as Hsueh visibly tired, allowing the Dane to take the game 21-10 and put Denmark firmly on their way.
“I knew that maybe I was going to be a bit drained after the match I had two days ago and even though I was controlling lots in the first game, I let go of it and that was not good,” Gade said.
“He hit the net a lot of times and he took a lot of risks, but I knew he was that kind of player and he’s a dangerous player with lots of confidence,” he said of Hsueh.