Wednesday, May 18, 2016
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
China exacted some revenge for their 2014 Thomas Cup loss to Japan with a crushing 5-0 defeat of the defending champions in the final Group A match of the TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016.
China went in with their big guns against Japan, who were depleted by the loss of last Thomas Cup hero Kento Momota.
Sho Sasaki led the team instead, and to everybody’s surprise, the veteran came out with a fiery opening spell against Chen Long. Sho set a terrific pace, smashing with accuracy and power and defending like his life depended on it. The pace, however, could last only a game and a half. He admitted later that his legs had begun to feel the strain midway through the second.
Chen had it rather easy in the third, winning the first point for China: 20-22 21-17 21-12.
“I wanted to give it everything today,” said Chen. “Sho Sasaki played an excellent match despite being over 30 years old. I was excited all through the match. I was trailing him in the first game; I did feel a bit of pressure. My confidence increased after I won a couple of line challenges in the second.”
The doubles that followed was a close contest for the most part: Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa trading blows with Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan in a marathon 82-minute match before losing their way late in the third: 21-19 25-27 21-15.
“They are a tough pair to beat,” said Fu. “We basically talked to each other all through the match, reminding each other not to make mistakes. That was the secret to our success today. We maintained a good mindset, there were no fluctuations in our concentration.”
Lin Dan was expected to beat Takuma Ueda and he did without breaking much of a sweat, 21-18 21-8. He sounded an ominous warning to China’s next opponents: “This is only the group stage. We wanted to use this to encourage ourselves. This was very good preparation for our campaign.”
New pair Li Junhui and Zheng Siwei (featured image) had too much firepower for Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda, taking just 34 minutes to give China a 4-0 lead.
Riichi Takeshita promised to earn a consolation win for Japan by winning the first game against Tian Houwei, but the Chinese grew stronger as the match progressed and duly sealed a 5-0 win for his team.
In Thomas Cup Group D, New Zealand overcame South Africa 4-1, while in the Uber Cup, China destroyed Denmark 5-0 (Group A) and Germany prevailed 4-1 over Australia in Group D.