China beats Japan 3-1 to win Uber Cup title
NEW DELHI (AP) — Defending champion China beat Japan 3-1 Saturday to clinch its 13th Uber Cup women’s badminton title.
China, boasting the top three players in the world, lost a doubles match but its strength in singles always gave it an edge.
Olympic champion and top-ranked player Li Xuerui defeated Minatsu Mitani 21-15, 21-5 in only 36 minutes before Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi pulled one back for former champion Japan in the first doubles and inflict the first match loss for China in the tournament.
Second-ranked Wang Shixian beat Sayaka Takahashi 21-16, 21-12 to take China 2-1 ahead before Zhao Yunlei and Wang Xiaoli won the second doubles match.
Third-ranked Wang Yihan was not needed to play the last match.
China ensured there was no surprise in store after its men’s team unexpectedly lost to Japan in the semifinals of the Thomas Cup tournament on Friday.
“Our loss in the Thomas Cup provided extra motivation for us to do well,” Shixian said. “Our loss yesterday was akin to our surprise loss in the Uber Cup final four years ago to South Korea. But the fact that everyone talks about our losses indicates that China does not lose ties easily.”
The former top-ranked Shixian, who won in 45 minutes, added: “There is no doubt about the dominance of our teams but there can be the odd day when we lose.”.
Xuerui said the women’s team had come into the final confident of winning an eighth title in nine editions of the tournament.
“We believed in ourselves and were focused on our games,” said Xuerui, who won 12 straight points to go from 6-10 down to 18-10 in the first game. “I did not think I could play as well as I did today. I’ve figured in some tough matches with her but today was easy.”
This was Japan’s first appearance in the final of the Uber Cup since 1981, when it won the last of its five titles.
The Thomas Cup final on Sunday will feature Japan and Malaysia.