The ghost of past America's Cup failures has returned to haunt Team Japan skipper Dean Barker, as he stares defeat in the eye yet again.

Leading 3-1 into today's challenger semifinal against Artemis Racing (Sweden), the former Team NZ helmsman now trails his rivals 4-3, after dropping all three races off Bermuda, the last in particularly galling circumstances.

Barker seemed well in control against the Swedes, but incurred a penalty, when he did not give counterpart Nathan Outteridge enough room to round the fifth mark safely, effectively killing his chances of victory.

He is now just one loss away from elimination and at the post-race press conference, Barker was cruelly reminded of Emirates Team NZ's sensational collapse from match-point against Oracle Team USA in the 2013 America's Cup regatta off San Francisco.

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"From 3-1 to 3-4 is a big comeback ... for a moment, your mind went to San Francisco to that other big comeback?"

Barker could only chuckle ... or was that a grimace?

"No, it didn't," he insisted. "We've known right from the start, against Artemis, it would be a tough battle.

"We had a day, a couple of days ago, where we managed to win both races. Today, Artemis did a good job to get three wins.

"We'll come out tomorrow and with a forecast for pretty strong breeze, we're pretty excited about the challenge we face with that."

In fact, Barker may already have lost his playoff battle. If the winds exceed upper limits tomorrow, there will be no postponement of racing, just cancellation, and Artemis will progress to the challenger final against Team NZ.

And that scenario will play right into the hands of cupholders Oracle - their close working relationship with Team Japan means they will have a willing practice partner, as they prepare for their defence in two weeks.

Today's results
Team NZ beat BAR by 31 secs (TNZ lead 4-1)
Artemis beat Team Japan by 39 sec (Japan lead 3-2)
BAR beat Team NZ by 20 sec (TNZ lead 4-2)
Artemis v Team Japan by 28 secs - (Series tied 3-3)
Team NZ beat BAR by 46 secs (TNZ win series 5-2)
Artemis beat Team Japan by 1min,46 secs (Artemis lead 4-3)

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