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An Se-young of South Korea celebrates after her win against Akane Yamaguchi of Japan during their women's singles match at Sudirman Cup. Image Credit: AFP

Suzhou, China: World No. 2 An Se-young emphatically beat Japan’s top-ranked Akane Yamaguchi to help send South Korea into the next round of the Sudirman Cup as group winners on Wednesday.

Four-time champions South Korea will be joined in the knockout stage by previous runners-up Japan, despite the Koreans winning the tie overall.

Extra edge

Following Korean victories in mixed doubles and men’s singles, the decisive blow came when An defeated Yamaguchi 21-11, 21-15 in a battle between the two best women’s players on the planet.

This year’s edition of the biennial Sudirman Cup, hosted in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou, has an extra edge because results count towards qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Also into the quarterfinals in the mixed-team competition are holders China.

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Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi of Japan won their doubles tie against South Korea. Image Credit: AFP

Clear favourites

The hosts are clear favourites to retain the trophy, which they have won a record 12 times.

The formidable Chinese will take on Denmark — the only other undefeated team in that group — on Thursday in a final group-stage matchup before both countries proceed to the knockouts.

Consolation win for India

Earlier Wednesday, Malaysia beat Chinese Taipei 4-1. Both teams also advance to the quarterfinals.

India’s poor campaign at the Sudirman Cup 2023 has finally come to an end, as the team signed off with a 4-1 win over Australia on Wednesday. The win was rather inconsequential, as they had surrendered meekly to Chinese Taipei 4-1 and Malaysia 5-0 at the start of the tournament.

The Sudirman Cup is the first international sporting event in China since the country ditched its tough zero-Covid policies late last year.