Chinese reign continues

Dragons slay fighting Japan 3-1

Chinese reign continues

The Uber Cup trophy gleamed temptingly next to the centre court. The sight was enough to draw the best from the two teams in fray for the title. Japan, a five-time winner, indeed gave their all but they had run into a wall in China. The 3-1 victory of the dragon nation, at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here on Saturday, spoke of their consistency at the helm of world badminton.

The only crack Japan was able to inflict on the Chinese dominance was in the second doubles rubber when the World No 4 pair of Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi decimated the World No 2 and immensely successful pair of Yixin Bao and Jinhua Tang 21-18, 21-9.

In rest of the matches, it was China all the way. The country experienced an unexpected blow in the Thomas Cup on Friday where their five-year reign was ended by Japan in the semifinals. No such thing was to happen in women’s final, though.

World No 1 Li Xuerui gave China, also the defending champions, the winning start by taming Minatsu Mitani 21-15, 21-5. Wang Shixian then put China 2-1 ahead by overwhelming Sayaka Takahashi 21-18, 21-9. The second doubles pair of Yunlei Zhao and Xiaoli Wang got their side the winning point by outclassing Miyuki Maeda and Reika Kakiiwaf 21-13, 21-6 in mere 37 minutes. The team broke into an impromptu celebration as they crowded the court in a jubilant huddle.

It was China’s 13th title, and their eighth of the last nine Uber Cup competitions since 1998. The sequence was only broken in 2010 in Kuala Lumpur by South Korea, who shared the bronze medal along with India this year.

Olympic champion Li took some time to gauge the tricky game of crafty Mitani, but soon covered the deficit and led 11-10 at the interval. Thereafter, she was unstoppable and asserted her dominance with some hard smashes on both flanks that left the diminutive Japanese scurrying to the corners.

“I didn't think I would play so well today in the first game against an opponent with whom I had some tough fights in the previous meetings. I didn't expect that,” said Li, who on Friday night was awarded the ‘BWF Player of the Year 2013’.

Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi brought the cheer to the Japanese camp by levelling the scores but All England Champion Shixian has been in a red hot form. She needed 45 minutes to defeat left-handed Takahashi, who troubled the World No 2 in the first game with her drops and angles.

Shixian returned stronger in the second game and made it a lop-sided affair. “Yes I was nervous as it was the finals of Uber Cup. I adjusted well and came back strong. I am happy that we have defended our title.”

Japan coach’s Joo Bong-park said: “We were playing till late yesterday so our girls did not have enough time to recover. Chinese players are attacking and our defensive game fell apart in front of them.”

Result:

Final: China bt Japan 3-1 (Li Xuerui bt Minatsu Mitani 21-15, 21-5, Yixin Bao/ Jinhua Tang lt to Misaki Matsutomo/ Ayaka Takahashi 18-21, 9-21; Shixian Wang bt Sayaka Takahashi 21-16, 21-12; Yunlei Zhao/ Xiaoli Wang bt Miyuki Maeda/ Reika Kakiiwa 21-13,21-6).

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