China overcomes Japan to win Uber Cup trophy

AARHUS (XINHUA) – The Chinese women’s badminton team rallied past Japan 3-1 to claim their 15th Uber Cup in the Ceres Arena on Saturday.

In the opening singles, Tokyo Olympic champion Chen Yufei lost 2-0 to world number five Akane Yamaguchi, 21-18, 21-10. The Chinese top singles shuttler failed to take the revenge on her old opponent after her loss to the Japanese in the Sudirman Cup final two weeks ago.

“The two games are very much alike. Akane did a good job in covering the court,” said Chen. “My moves and response to the shuttle are a bit slow. I was feeling like running out of energy.”

Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan had a tough fight against Japanese pair Yuki Fukushima and Mayu Matsumoto in the following match. It took the Chinese pair 46 minutes to snatch the first set 29-27, during which the longest rally lasted 56 shots.

The Japanese equalised the doubles match 1-1 by winning the second set 21-15. The Chinese Olympics silver medallists sealed the victory by winning the decider 21-18, equalising the team score 1-1.

China team members celebrate with the trophy at Uber Cup badminton tournament in Aarhus. PHOTO: XINHUA

One hour and 57 minutes is the longest match duration for the Chinese duo since they paired up.

In the following match of singles, He Bingjiao smashed Sayaka Takahashi 21-9, 21-18, giving China a 2-1 lead.

Huang Dongping and Li Wenmei sealed the victory for China by edging Misaki Matsutomo and Nami Matsuyama 24-22, 23-21 in the deciding match.

Competing in her first-ever Uber Cup, Li was excited to claim the crucial win.

“When we were falling behind, or at the match point, I was not nervous at all,” said the 21-year-old. “I played more than 100 per cent of myself and I was surprised that I was able to deliver so many super shots.”

Having won the Olympic mixed doubles gold, the Sudirman Cup and now the Uber Cup, Huang felt very grateful and honoured.

“No champions come in an easy way. It proves that we kept good training when there were no games during the pandemic,” said Huang. “It’s been many years since I played women’s doubles last time, but as partners, we never let each other down.”