Friday May 14, 04:41 AM

JAKARTA (AFP) - Defending champions China remained on course for a fourth successive Uber Cup women's badminton title with a crushing 3-0 semi-final victory over Japan.

The Chinese will face South Korea in Saturday's final after the Koreans came through a five-game thriller to beat Denmark 3-2 in Thursday's late semi-final.

The South Koreans had looked dead and buried after former world number one Camilla Martin and team-mate Tine Rasmussen put the Danes 2-0 up.

However, Camilla Sorensen was beaten by Lee Yun Hwa and the game was settled by two nail-biting doubles encounters which both went to three games.

Lee Kyung Won and Lee Yun Hwa leaped into each other's arms after they came back from 9-3 down in the last game to triumph 15-13, 5-15, 15-10 against Mette Schjoldager and Pernille Harder, ending the five-and-a-half-hour marathon.

Earlier, China's world number one Gong Ruina dropped only four points to 11th-ranked Kanako Yonekura in a quick-fire first game before Gao Ling and Huang Sui, badminton's second best doubles pairing, beat Shizuka Yamamoto-Seiko Yamada 15-3, 15-2.

World number two Zhang Ning encountered greater difficulty against Kaori Mori, ranked 13, but still wrapped up the tie 11-7, 11-7.

"Today the first singles and first doubles played very well but the second singles was not very good," said China's head coach Li Yongbo.

"She didn't play as well as she can. Japan played quite well -- they are all hard-running and showed good fighting spirit but China was still the better team."

Shuji Matsuno, head coach of Japan's women, tipped China to lift the trophy in Saturday's final.

"China is very strong but we tried our best to win this game," he said.

He added that Japan were happy with the bronze medal awarded to both losing semi-finalists.

"Our target was to get a medal here, which we had already achieved before this game. But we also wanted to challenge the Chinese team and show what we can do against them," he said.

Meanwhile Indonesia's team manager has warned his men face a tough task in turning over second seeds Denmark for a chance to extend their 10-year reign in the concurrent Thomas Cup.

Speaking after Indonesia's quarter-final triumph over arch-rivals Malaysia, Christian Hadinata said the Danes were a balanced team with strong players throughout.

"Denmark have balance and quality in all players, doubles and singles, so we are just going to tell our players to do our best," Hadinata said ahead of Friday's semi-final.

"We played well today but we are still expecting more improvement. But we are still hoping that the players can give their best in the next game," he added.

Indonesia's bid for a fifth straight title in the men's badminton showpiece was dealt a heavy blow when they were hammered 5-0 by a rampant Chinese line-up on Monday.

China's men, who like the women are all unbeaten here, will play South Korea on Friday.