Republic of Korea came from behind to beat rivals Japan 2-1 and pip them to the last remaining semi-final spot of the 19th Asian Games women’s team championship, where they join Malaysia, India and Hong Kong, China.
Meanwhile, Pakistan, India, Malaysia and Hong Kong, China qualified for the semi-finals in the men’s event.
The No.5 seeds, whose 2-1 pools stage defeat to Japan five years ago in Jakarta saw Japan progress to the semi-finals at their expense, were tenacious today as they battled back to get their revenge.
Japan’s Satomi Watanabe, top seed in the singles event, was in ruthless form in the first match and quickly earned an 11-4, 11-2, 11-2 win against Mingyeong Heo to give her side the lead.
Japan could not press their advantage, though, with Korea’s Hwayeong Eum firing back with a dominant 11-7, 11-4, 11-3 victory over Risa Sugimoto to leave the tie in the balance.
In an emotionally-charged conclusion, 32-year-old Yeongsoo Yang, a veteran of Korea’s last foray into the semi-finals back in 2014, was able to hold off spirited 18-year-old Akari Midorikawa in an intense 11-5, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6 win in 51 minutes.
Afterwards, Yang said: “Last year, the Asian Games was postponed and I had been preparing for a long time, but as time went on, there was a lot of pressure to do better.
“But that makes the win today feel even better. I feel happier!”
Korea, now guaranteed at least a bronze medal, will take on Malaysia in a bid to reach the final after the No.2 seeds stormed past India 3-0 to top Pool B.
Despite that defeat, India’s three wins from four ties was enough to see them safely into the last four, where they face Hong Kong, China, who qualified for the semi-finals yesterday with four wins from four.
In the men’s event, No.2 seeds Malaysia clinched a morale-boosting win over Hong Kong, China to top Pool B in the last tie of the day.
Malaysia looked to be cruising when their No.1 Eain Yow Ng confidently overcame Henry Leung in straight games, only for Ming Hong Tang to hit back as he came from behind to beat Ivan Yuen 3-2.
In the final match, Mohammad Syafiq Kamal was able to get his team over the line, with the 27-year-old recovering from a slow start to beat Chi Him Wong 3-1.
Malaysia coach Ajaz Azmat said afterwards: “Syafiq played some of his best squash of the last couple of months today. This will give him a lot of confidence.
“We’re excited to have both teams top their pools. They’re all playing well and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”
Malaysia will take on India in the semi-final after the top seeds cruised past Nepal.
The other semi-final will be contested by Pool B runners up Hong Kong, China and Pool A winners Pakistan, who continued their fine form in Hangzhou with a comfortable win over a dangerous Kuwait team.
The semi-finals of the Hangzhou Asian Games team squash events take place tomorrow, September 29, with play beginning at 11:00 (GMT+8). The finals will be played on September 30.
The singles and mixed doubles events begin October 01.