Chinese teams favored at Thomas and Uber cups
NEW DELHI (AP) — The badminton teams from China will be the strong favorites in the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup, which start Sunday with a new format of 16 teams, four more than previously.
The hosts, the defending champions and the top 14 teams in the world will participate in the prestigious team events at the Siri Fort Complex, which was refurbished for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
The Chinese men’s team for the Thomas Cup boasts Lin Dan, a five-time world champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist. China will also have second-ranked Chen Long, Du Pengyu and Tian Houwei.
Lin, who is ranked only 58th because of limited participation in tournaments, has been named as the fourth player but is likely to play the third singles in the five-match format which includes two doubles matches.
Although Indonesia has won 13 titles, China is the most successful since it started participating in 1982. China has won the Thomas Cup nine times and is in line for a record sixth consecutive title.
As for the other teams, top-ranked Lee Chong Wei will hope to help his Malaysian team, with Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia, Kenichi Tago of Japan and third-ranked Jan O. Jorgensen of Denmark the others to watch out for.
China has been drawn into Group D along with Taiwan, Russia and France. The top two teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals.
The Chinese women’s team for the Uber Cup comprises the top three players in the world — Li Xuerui, Wang Shixian and Wang Yihan.
China, which has won the Uber Cup 12 times, including seven of the last eight tournaments, has been placed in Group A along with Taiwan, England and Russia.
Eighth-ranked Saina Nehwal of India said the Chinese would dominate but hoped for a good show at home.
“People expect me to win every time but they should realize that even among the Chinese players, not everyone wins each time,” Nehwal said. “Though China is the favorite, I’m confident of doing well in front of the home crowd and that our team can make the semifinals.”
The tournaments will see the use of the recently-introduced Instant Review System for the first time on one of the four courts.
The IRS, introduced at the BWF World Super Series Finals in Kuala Lumpur in December 2013 using hawk-eye technology, allows players two opportunities to challenge line calls in one match.