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KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) –

Ko Sung Hyun (right) of South Korea hits a return during the mixed doubles semi-final  in Kuala Lumpur on May 25, 2013

Ko Sung Hyun (right) of South Korea hits a return as teammate Kim Ha Na looks on during the mixed doubles semi-final at the 2013 Sudirman Cup badminton championships in Kuala Lumpur on May 25, 2013. Three-time champions South Korea reached their seventh Sudirman Cup final when they defeated a spirited Thailand 3-1.

Three-time champions South Korea reached their seventh Sudirman Cup final when they defeated a spirited Thailand 3-1 on Saturday.

They will likely battle for the trophy against defending champions China, who are overwhelming favourites to overcome Denmark in the second semi-final later Saturday.

Ko Sung-Hyun was the hero for the 2003 champions as he secured two points after winning his mixed and men’s doubles matches at the Putra Stadium.

“It wasn’t easy. The match was very different from that of our group encounter (South Korea won 5-0). This is the semi-finals and it is definitely harder,” said Ko.

Ko and Kim Ha-Na gave the South Koreans the perfect start when they outplayed former All-England runners-up Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam 21-18, 21-19 in only 26 minutes.

Thai veteran Boonsak Ponsana then levelled the match when he thrashed an inexperienced Lee Dong-Keun 21-9, 21-12.

“It was my game plan to make his life hard. I wanted to move him round the court,” said the 31-year-old Boonsak.

It was one-way traffic in the next two matches. Ko and Lee Yong-Dae made it 2-1 for South Korea with a comprehensive 21-12, 21-11 victory over Maneepong Jongjit and Nipitphon Puangpuapech.

Sung Ji-Hyun then outplayed three-time world junior champion Ratchanok Inthanon 21-17, 21-14 to clinch victory for the Koreans against the Thais who were playing in their first ever Sudirman Cup semi-final.

“I’m delighted we managed to wrap it up quickly as it will give us more time to recover for tomorrow’s final,” said South Korean manager Greg Kim.

South Korea won the Sudirman Cup in 1991, 1993 and 2003 and last reached the final in 2009.