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China face unexpected French challenge at Thomas and Uber Cup

BANGKOK (AFP) – Reigning champions China faced an unexpected challenge from the young French team on the second day of badminton’s Thomas and Uber Cup in Thailand yesterday.

The men’s Thomas Cup and women’s Uber Cup see the world’s top nations compete in Bangkok’s Impact Arena, with the Chinese looking to defend their Thomas Cup crown.

French challenger Christo Popov made China’s Lu Guang Zu pay for every shot before the world number 25 wrested a win 25-23, 24-26, 21-15 in a match that lasted just under two hours.

“It’s not every year that France has challenged China, and we have a brilliant team coming up with young guns,” said Popov.

“Today we have the level to compare ourselves, maybe not win every match, but we can make it difficult for China, for sure. And that’s what we showed in the first match.”

Chriisto Popov is on his knees after cramping against Lu Guang Zu. PHOTO: BADMINTON WORLD FEDERATION

China’s men’s team ended the second day of Group C as top dogs, 5-0.

Elsewhere in the men’s, Denmark were untroubled by the competition from Algeria and quickly won the field.

World number one Viktor Axelsen was first up in the morning and made swift work of opponent Youcef Sabri Medel 21-9, 21-11, ending the game in 20 minutes.

Following his compatriot with equal efficiency, world number three Anders Antonsen beat Algerian Mohamed Abderrahime Belarbi 21-5, 21-8.

In the women’s Uber Cup, Thailand had a battle on their hands against Malaysia, but ended the bout 3-1.

World number eight Ratchanok Intanon had an uphill fight against young Malaysian player Goh Jin Wei, who opened strongly only to falter against her vastly more experienced opponent to finish 14-21, 21-14, 21-15.