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May 18, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - The four seeded teams in the world men's team championhips of badminton - the Thomas Cup Finals - all clinched berths in Friday's semifinals with victories today. China and Malaysia roared into the final four with shutouts while Indonesia and Denmark stumbled slightly, each dropping a match in their separate ties.

In the afternoon session contested by Group B teams, Malaysia crushed the Netherlands 5 matches to none, while Indonesia beat Korea 4 to 1. Group A leader China trounced Hong Kong 5 to 0 and co-leader Denmark defeated Sweden 4 to 1.

The skill and depth of the Malaysian squad was too much for the Dutch team. Ong Ewe Hock clobbered Jeroen Van Dijk 15-3 and 15-6. Cheah Soon Kit and Yap Kim Hock trounced Quinten Van Dalm and Dennis Lens 15-5 and 15-9. Yong Hock Kin beat Dicky Palyama 15-8 and 15-6. Choong Tan Fook and Tan Kim Her whipped Norbert Van Barneveld and Joris Van Soerland 15-7 and 15-12. Wong Choon Hann finished for the Malaysians with a 15-4 and 15-12 win over Gerben Bruijstens.

In the Indonesia-Korea encounter, Heryanto Arbi started very poorly against Korean Hwang Sun Ho. Hwang played very well, specially at the net, while Arbi made many mistakes. Arbi also had problems with cramps in his right calf and had difficulty launching himself into the air for his trademark jumpsmashes.

The Korean player raced to a 9-1 advantage before Arbi buckled down and began to assert himself with an array of jumpsmashes, kills and netshots. Hwang though managed to stop Arbi occasionally and scored several points of his own to stay ahead 13-10 and 14-10. Arbi then stepped up his game, stopping Hwang at game point several times and scoring the next 7 points to take the first set. In the second game, Arbi was unstoppable despite several mild attacks of cramps and he won in a runaway over a demoralized Hwang 15-0.

Ricky Subagja and Rexy Mainaky followed Arbi's comeback win with a 15-9 and 15-4 victory over Lee Dong Soo and Yoo Yung Sung. Marleve Mainaky then romped over Jang Chun Woong 15-2 and 15-1 to give Indonesia an unbeatable 3-0 lead.

In the second doubles, world champions Candra Wijaya and Budiarto Sigit fell to Ha Tae Kwon and Kang Kyung Jin despite having waltzed to an easy first game win at 15-6. The Korean smash defense improved in the second game, handling the Wijaya-Sigit attack and often turning the attack into their favor. Ha and Kang took the next set 15-9 and the closely-contested decider 18-15.

!993 world champion Joko Suprianto won the final match, beating Jun Jong Bae 15-2 and 15-1.

In the evening session contested by Group A teams, top seed China played Hong Kong without ace singles player Sun Jun and with two reshuffled doubles pairs. Luo Yigang took the first singles match with a 15-6 and 15-4 pasting of Tam Kai Chuen. Liu Yong and Yu Jinhao then beat Ma Che Kong and Chow Kin Man 15-9 and 15-6.

In the second singles, Hong Kong's Ng Wei gave the home crowd several thrills when he scored point after point against Dong Jiong to gain a 9-3 advantage. Dong though may have only been toying with Ng and the crowd. The Chinese player did not allow Ng another score in the first game, which he won 15-9. Dong also took the second set, playing just hard enough for a 15-8 victory.

Zhang Jun and Zhang Wei beat Tam Lok Tin and Yau Kwun Yuen in the second doubles 15-2 and 15-9. Chen Gang completed the rout with a 15-0 and 15-10 win over Liu Kwok Wa.

In the other Group A matchup, Denmark took the measure of Scandinavian archrival Sweden.

Danish number one Peter Gade hammered Henrik Bengtsson 15-4 and 15-5. Jon Holst and Michael Sogaard followed with an almost similiar 15-3 and 15-4 win over Frederik Bergstrom and Henrik Andersson.

And then Poul-Erik Hoyer surprisingly lost to Thomas Johansson in the second singles. Hoyer, Denmark's mainstay in the 1996 Thomas Cup Finals, was an easy 15-5 winner in the first game. In the second, he was ahead and seemed to be on his way to posting his twelfth consecutive win over Johansson. The Swedish player however fought back, using his 6-foot 5-inch height to rain down steeply angled shots and his long legs and arms to retrieve Hoyer's replies. Hoyer also began to make mistakes as he tried to push the shuttle past Johansson. Johansson began to close in, but Hoyer still managed to reach match point. The tall Swede was able to stop Hoyer and then took the second set in a tiebreak 17-14.

In the decider, Johannson was pumped up from his comeback in the second set, while Hoyer was still struggling to solve the tall Swede's game. Johansson continued to play well, but Hoyer was too error-prone, allowing the Swede to win 15-8.

After the stunning Hoyer loss, Jim Laugesen and Thomas Stavngaard scored the clincher for Denmark when they beat Jens Olsson and Rikard Magnusson 15-8 and 15-7. Kenneth Jonassen then mopped up for Denmark with a 15-6 and 15-3 defeat of Daniel Eriksson.

With their victories today, China and Denmark booked the two semifinal places out of Group A. Malaysia and Indonesia took the semifinal spots allotted to Group B. Wednesday's ties between China and Denmark and between Malaysia and Indonesia will decide Friday's semifinal matchups with the Group A winner playing the Group B runner-up and the Group B winner facing off against the Group A runner-up.