Thomas and Uber Cup: China reaffirm dominance in men's badminton with title win over Japan

China, which boasts some of the world's best players, was the tournament favourite despite not having secured the championship since 2012.

PTI May 27, 2018 20:53:43 IST
Thomas and Uber Cup: China reaffirm dominance in men's badminton with title win over Japan

Bangkok: China's men took home the Thomas Cup on Sunday, clawing back to beat Japan 3-1 and compensate for their early exit from the previous edition in 2016.

China, which boasts some of the world's best players, was the tournament favourite despite not having secured the championship since 2012.

But its players faced added pressure when the national women's team failed to make the final of the concurrent Uber Cup for the first time ever.

Thomas and Uber Cup China reaffirm dominance in mens badminton with title win over Japan

Chinese men's team pose with trophy after winning the Thomas Cup on Sunday. AFP

Both competitions were held in Bangkok at the Impact Arena, which filled up on Sunday in anticipation of a tough battle between top-seed China and a scrappy Japanese team.

The contest did not disappoint. Japan's flashy left-hander Kento Momota stunned world number five Chen Long 21-9, 21-18, giving the underdog team crucial early momentum.

It was the second time Momota, 23, had stunned Long this year after beating him at the Asian Championships in April in a continuing comeback. He was barred from the sport in 2016 after being caught gambling in an illegal casino but returned to action last year.

China's deep bench rallied after the stunning loss, with world number three doubles pair Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan levelling the contest.

The 22-year-old singles star Shi Yuqi then stayed one step ahead of Japan's Kenta Nishimoto, jumping in the air for a smash winner to reach a match point which Nishimoto then netted to give Yuqi a 21-12, 21-17 win.

Clinching the third and deciding match was the world number four doubles pair Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen, who sprang back from a game down to achieve a nail-biting 17-21, 21-19, 22-20 win over Keigo Sonoda and Yuta Watanabe. Their teammates rushed the court afterwards in celebration.

The tall and imposing Li Junhui told reporters afterwards that part of the week-long competition had left him so worn out he was too tired even to change his shirt.

After failure to excel in the past two tournaments, head coach Xia Xuanze said he was relieved to move on.

"It's a big relief and I can have a drink now," he said.

Japan had been eyeing a clean sweep after the women's side clinched the Uber Cup with an easy 3-0 victory against Thailand on Saturday.

But it was not to be, even though men's coach Park Joo Bong said his players had exceeded expectations.

"It was a very good fight (but) finally we could not finish the win," he said. "But I'm happy.

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