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Badminton: Dominant China down Japan to retain Uber Cup in India

Wang Xiaoli and Zhao Yunlei won their doubles match to seal China’s win over Japan in the Uber Cup final in India. Photos: AFP.

Wang Xiaoli and Zhao Yunlei won their doubles match to seal China’s win over Japan in the Uber Cup final. Photos: AFP.

May 24, 2014: China’s all-conquering women’s team comfortably beat Japan 3-1 to win their 13th Uber Cup and retain the trophy they had won in Wuhan two years ago. Japan surprised China in the first doubles contest, but otherwise the favourites dominated their opponents.

 

Olympic champion Li Xuerui made World No.12 Minatsu Mitani look out of her league in the opening singles, winning 21-15, 21-5 as she restricted her opponent to a single digit in the second game.

 

Mitani started well, but from 10-10 in the first game, Li fired winners with ease from all corners of the court. Mitani was left lunging hopelessly as the missiles from Li’s racket found their mark with deadly precision.

 

“I didn’t expect to have such an easy match because I’ve had tough matches with her before,” Li said.

 

Ma Jin, Wang Shixian, Li Xuerui and Wang Yihan with the Uber Cup.

Ma Jin, Wang Shixian, Li Xuerui and Wang Yihan with the Uber Cup.

However, there was an unexpected twist in the second match as Bao Yixin and Tang Jinhua – the most dominant women’s doubles pair over the last year with a nearly uninterrupted reign at Superseries tournaments – ran aground against the combative Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi.

 

The Japanese maintained a barrage of attacking strokes that wore down Bao and Tang, who looked out of sorts and unable to defend with their usual consistency. The 21-18, 21-9 result saw Japan back in contention at 1-1.

 

Takahashi said that their opponents’ loss to Japan’s Miyuki Maeda and Reika Kakiiwa at the All England had helped them plan for this match.

 

“We didn’t see the All England match that Maeda and Kakiiwa won, but we discussed it with them and they told us to particularly watch for their push returns to our serves. We were well prepared,” Takahashi said.

 

However, China were ruthless in the remaining contests. Wang Shixian was troubled early on by Sayaka Takahashi’s crafty left-handed strokes, but once the All England champion started to read her opponent, the Japanese was pushed to the back court and Wang could pick her spot for the kill. Wang made it 2-1 for China with a 21-16, 21-12 victory.

 

The tie was to end soon with the second doubles. Wang Xiaoli and Zhao Yunlei’s rasping smashes were too much for Miyuki Maeda and Reika Kakiiwa to handle, as the Chinese pair won 21-13 21-6.

 

China coach Li Yongbo said the Uber Cup victory held a lot of significance for the team. “This victory has two meanings for us,” Li said. “One was that our experienced players controlled the situation well and the other was that our young players gained experience. We took the campaign very seriously.”

 

Japan coach Park Joo-bong had mixed feelings about his team’s loss. “Our target was the final. I’m happy with the result, as it is an improvement over our last two Uber Cup campaigns. However, our singles were not good enough.”

 

Source: BWF (www.bwfbadminton.org)

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