NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand, 26th July 2007 – . History repeats itself in the all-Asians semi-final clash between China and Japan. A fired-up China, the current Asian winners and the 1995 World Champions, put it past the fighting Japan in straight sets. At last year’s final of the Asian Women’s Junior Championship at the same competition venue here, China wedged out Japan in four sets.
The convincing 25-21, 25-15, 25-15 victory over Japan on the penultimate day of the championship gave China another chance to test their mettle against archrivals Brazil in the final. At the previous edition in Turkey two years ago, the Chinese finished third following the hard-fought five-set win over Italy. In the 2003 final in Suphan Buri, Brazil dashed out the Chinese hopes of winning their second world title after coming from behind to beat the Asian side 3-2.
The Friday’s showdown will be a significant proof which team between the superpower two – Brazil and China – will be the 2007 world champions. Brazil are chasing their dreams of not only retaining the title, but also adding another laurel to their gold-medal collections.
The Brazilians, who beat Serbia and Montenegro 3-1 in the 2005 final in Turkey, already captured five world titles in 1987, 1989, 2001, 2003 and 2005, while China also makes a step closer to winning their second world crown as they first won it in 1995 in Bangkok.
In the semi-finals between the two continental champions on Thursday, Brazil, the South American winners, blunted the fierce attacks from the USA to dispose of the Norceca champions 25-14, 25-19, 25-15.
Meanwhile, in the 5th-8th classification matches, Ukraine kept up the pressure over the cheering home crowd, brushing aside the host challengers in straight sets 25-14, 25-23, 25-17, while the European champions Italy tamed Germany 25-14, 25-21, 25-21.
On Friday, the final day of the championship, Ukraine goes up in the rematch against Italy, the team they beat 3-2 in the first round earlier, in the fifth-place round, while Thailand takes on Germany, the team they also beat 3-1 in the preliminaries, in the seventh-placed play-off.
As for the 9th-12th classification round, Puerto Rico tasted their first victory following the convincing 25-15, 25-18, 25-18 win over unfancied Dominican Republic, while Croatia mercilessly crushed lacklustre Egypt, the two-time African champions. In a totally one-sided affair 25-19, 25-11, 25-12.
Puerto Rico faces Croatia in the ninth-place play-off, with Egypt challenging the Dominican Republic for the 11th position.
Finals Schedule, Friday 27th July (local time)
Place 11-12: Dominican Republic – Egypt (10:00)
Place 9-10: Puerto Rico – Croatia (12:00)
Place 7-8: Germany – Thailand (12:00)
Place 5-6: Italy – Ukraine (14:00)
Bronze medal match: Japan – U.S.A. (14:00)
photo Getty Images