(LEAD) S. Korean men defeat Denmark to reach semifinals at table tennis worlds

The host South Korea advanced to the semifinals of the men's tournament at the table tennis world championships Friday. South Korea beat Denmark 3-1 in the quarterfinals at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Team Table Tennis Championships in Busan. By reaching the semifinals scheduled for Saturday, South Korea secured at least a bronze medal. Since there is no third-place match, losers of the semifinals will each be awarded a bronze medal. The ITTF holds team world championships in even-numbered years, and South Korea won men's bronze medals at each of the past three competitions. In the semifinals at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center (BEXCO), South Korea will face No. 1-ranked China, which will go for its 11th consecutive world title. South Korea head coach Joo Sae-hyuk said, as tough as it will be to get past China, he wants his players to put on a good show in front of home fans. "Our players are in great form, and we're going to have full support of fans behind us," Jo o said. "We will try to put up a good fight." In the team tournament, each match is made up of up to five singles matches in a best-of-five format. Teams are each carrying five players, but only three players can play in each match. Lim Jong-hoon, ranked 18th in the world, led off by beating 28th-ranked Anders Lind 3-1 (11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 14-12). In the first game, Lim emerged from an early seesaw battle to grab a 9-6 lead. Lind responded with two points but Lim won the final two points to take a 1-0 lead. Lim built a 6-1 lead early in the second game, before Lind battled back to make it 8-6. Lim managed to pull away late for the 2-0 lead. Lim won the first three points of the third game and led 9-7. Two points away from losing the match, Lind won the next four points to take the third game and stay alive. The fourth game was another tight one, and Lim couldn't close out Lind after grabbing a 10-8 lead. The two went to deuce, before Lim finally finished off the game and the match at 14-12. Denmark resp onded as world No. 29 Jonathan Groth defeated Jang Woo-jin, South Korea's top-ranked player at No. 14, by 3-1 (11-9, 11-9, 5-11, 11-3). Jang dropped the first two games against Groth, unable to handle the left-hander's powerful drives. Jang then won the third game 11-5, scoring the final five points following a timeout. Jang, though, couldn't build on that momentum. Groth went up 7-3 after a long rally, and then took the next four points to win the game and the match. An Jae-hyun, ranked 34th, handled 387th-ranked Martin Buch Andersen 3-0 (11-2, 13-11, 11-7), putting South Korea ahead 2-1 in the match score. An came out swinging, taking the first game 11-2 after jumping out to a 7-1 lead. An forced deuce in the second game after rallying from an 8-5 deficit, and then capitalized on poor returns by Andersen at the end. An staged another comeback to win the third game. He won the game's final six points after going down 7-5, thanks to a series of hard forehand drives. Lim returned for the fourth singles match, now up against Groth. And he exacted revenge for Jang, beating the Danish player 3-1 (9-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-8). Lim lost the first game against Groth, after the two players traded points early on. The second game was also tight, with Lim blowing a 9-7 lead before prevailing 12-10 when Groth's backhand return went wide. Lim won the third game by taking an 8-3 lead and fending off a late charge by Groth. Lim closed out the match win for South Korea in the fourth game, emphatically winning the final point with a forehand drive. With thousands of fans at BEXCO cheering on homegrown players, Lim said it was thanks to such partisan support that his team was able to pull out the win. "It was a huge honor to play for the country in front of these fans," Lim said. "Honestly, if we'd played like this in a foreign country, we would have lost this match. We're really grateful for our fans' love and support." Jang, who suffered South Korea's lone loss against Denmark, thanked Lim for bailing him out at the en d. "I figured Jae-hyun would easily win his match. But when Jong-hoon lost the first game of the fourth match, my heart dropped," Jang said with a smile. "I was trying to prepare myself mentally for the fifth match. But after Jong-hoon took the second game, I was able to relax a bit. I didn't doubt him again."