South Korea Friday won a thrilling tie against Denmark to reach the Thomas Cup final in Wuhan, setting up a likely showdown with China in a tournament that is key preparation for the Olympics.
Danish 35-year-old Peter Gade, appearing at his last Thomas Cup, treated his fans to a three-game tussle with Hyun Il Lee, but the South Korean world number seven won 17-21, 21-14, 21-10 and have the Asian side the momentum.
"At the start I made many mistakes," said Lee, "but in the middle I played my own game and got my rhythm."
A despondent Gade, the world number five who will retire after the London Olympics, knew he had missed an opportunity to notch one more win at the Thomas Cup.
"I felt I had a chance today but I wasn't able to turn it around to play on my terms. I should have been more aggressive. It's always about balance against Lee. Don't be too aggressive, but I just wasn't enough."
Raising the Danish spirits and to the delight of the Wuhan spectators, Mathias Boe threw his racket into the crowd after winning his first doubles with partner Carsten Mogensen and levelling the tie 1-1.
But South Korea were the stronger force and tightened their grip on the semi-final when Wan Ho Shon, hot off his stunning India Open final win over world number one Lee Chong Wei, beat Jan O Jorgensen 21-13, 14-21, 21-16.
The doubles pair Yong Dae Lee and Sa Rang Kim won their match and clinched the tie 3-1, setting up a likely clash against China, who take on Japan in the second semi in the evening session.
Contemplating the end of his playing days at the competition, Gade added there were always regrets, "but that doesn't change the memories of the Thomas Cup. I have great memories here," he said.
The women's Uber Cup final on Saturday also features South Korea. The reigning champions are up against a China team, looking to avenge their 2010 shock defeat.
The Thomas Cup final takes place on Sunday.