Japanese win a thriller

Japanese win a thriller

Takuma Ueda threw his racquet and sprawled on the court. His team-mates flooded the court and fell on him in intoxicating jubilation. Ueda was the star of Japan’s first ever Thomas Cup victory on Sunday by pulling off a tense decider against Malaysia’s Daren Liew.

Liew had given every ounce of his energy to make a match out of it.

Spurred on by an emphatic crowd and contingent, Malaysia put up a rousing performance.

But his indiscretion in the last few points cost him the match and extended the 22-year-search of Malaysia for the title.

As an ashen-faced Liew was consoled by his team-mates, many of the Malaysian supports in the stands were moved to tears in their side’s hearbreaking 2-3 loss.

Japan thus became the fourth nation to win the Thomas Cup after China, Indonesia and Malaysia.    

Japan’s 25th-ranked Ueda did well to hold his nerve during the 21-12, 18-21, 21-17 victory.

After Ueda breezed past in the first game, 66th-ranked Liew, who was ranked 10 till last year, made a stunning comeback.

Tension and excitement soared as the match spilled into the decider.

Both contingents were on their feet cheering for their players and even a normally calm Lee Chong Wei animatedly gave tips to Liew during the halfway mark.

An error in judging the shuttle’s fall by Liew gave Ueda the match point and a wide hit from him gave Japan the victory.

The last few days have been memorable for Japan, whose women’s team also reached the final of Uber Cup.

The men’s team ended the 10-year domination of China, who had to share the bronze medal with Indonesia.

The pursuit of their maiden title produced another sterling performance from a charged-up Japan, who were left trailing after World No. 1 Lee expectedly ran away with the first singles against Kenichi Tago 21-12, 21-16.

The aggressive streak in Tago was firmly suppressed by the authoritative calm of Lee, who comfortably controlled the points and pace of rallies. 

Tago fought back in the second game and led 15-10 but then Lee brilliantly caught up winning 10 points in a row. After scoring the winning point, an emotional Lee sank on his knees and kissed the court. He then ran to hug Tago and exchanged his jersey with him.

Japan, however, immediately levelled through their World No. 3 doubles pair of Kenichi Hayakawa and Hiroyuki Endo who was given a keen fight by World No. 7 Boon Heong Tan and Thien How Hoon before posting a 12-21, 21-17, 21-19 victory in an engrossing contest marked with fast and attacking exchanges.

Kento Momoto , his youthful  enthusiasm and aggression intact, rattled Wei Feng Chong with his searing smashes to notch up 15-21, 17-21 win. 

Facing the crisis of survival, the Malaysian contingent was given the lifeline by their second doubles pair V Shem Goh and Wee Kiong Tan who came from behind to quell the challenge of Keigo Sonoda Takeshi Kamura 19-21, 21-17, 21-12 to level the tie 2-2 and set up a tantalizing decider.

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