Top seeds China take on third-seeded Japan in the first semi-final of the ongoing inaugural Robot Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on Saturday.
China have enjoyed a solid run in the ongoing tournament despite not having the likes of their top-ranked shuttlers - Lin Dan, Chen Long and Li Xuerui. The Asian giants were handed a tough draw as they were featured in Group A along with Hong Kong and Taiwan. However, they topped the group decimating their oppositions with 5-0 scorelines.
On Friday, China just needed an hour and 49 minutes to beat Malaysia 3-0 in the quarter-final and book their spot in the last-four stages. In the absence of big names, rising young stars Shi Yuqi, He Bingjiao, Chen Yufei and Qiao Bin have put their hands up and clinched crucial wins for the team.
While they have rotated their singles players to good effect so far in the tournament, Shi Yuqi and He Bingjiao do have a slender edge over the Japanese singles unit, consisting the likes of world number six Akane Yamaguchi, Sayaka Sato and Kenta Nishimoto.
On the other hand, the battle between the two top-class doubles unit is likely to be the highlight of the day in Vietnam. Top-ranked Women's doubles shuttlers Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi of Japan have not dropped a game yet so far and are likely to outclass Chen YingChen and Zhang Nan.
However, with the likes of Li Junhui, Liu Yuchen and Jia Yifan in the Men's and Mixed Doubles rubber, China are having a slender advantage over their opponents, who have been quite inconsistent so far, on Friday.
Possible Line-up: Shi Yuqi (MS), He Bingjiao (WS), Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen (MD), Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan (WD), Li Yinhui/Zhang Nan (XD)
Possible Line-up: Kenta Nishimoto (MS), Akane Yamaguchi (WS), Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda (MD), Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (WD), Arisa Higashino/Yuta Watanabe (XD)
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