Japan’s men served notice of their prowess at the TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2018 today, brushing aside Hong Kong 4-1 in the second session of the opening day in Bangkok.
Japan wrapped up the tie by the third match at the cost of only one game in the Group C encounter. The resurgent Kento Momota achieved the breach early on for Japan, recovering from a one-game deficit and stepping into gear for a 15-21 21-16 21-15 result over Ng Ka Long in the first Men’s Singles.
The next three matches posed no problems at all for Japan. Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda blew aside Lee Chun Hei/Or Chin Chung 21-15 21-13 in the first doubles; Kenta Nishimoto (Men’s Singles) took ten minutes longer in a similarly one-sided result over Wong Wing Ki, 21-18 21-11, and Takuto Inoue/Yuki Kaneko (featured image) tightened the grip beating Mak Hee Chun/Tang Chun Man 21-12 21-15.
Youngster Lee Cheuk Yiu earned a consolation point for Hong Kong with a 21-15 21-13 victory over Kazumasa Sakai in the last match.
Having kept Momota on court for over an hour, Ng Ka Long was satisfied with his performance but rued the few mistakes that cost him dearly. “I played quite well today. In the beginning of the second game I made some mistakes and that was why I lost the match today,” said Ng.
“I’m not really surprised with the way he’s playing after his long layoff. He was a quality player earlier too. We have a tough group this time. We hope we can play as well as we did in 2016 and get into the quarter-finals.”
In Uber Cup action, Thailand, Canada and Korea enjoyed breezy victories over Germany, India and Mauritius respectively.
Thailand’s women were treated to energetic support by a sizeable crowd that cheered every point as they overwhelmed Germany 5-0 in Group B. After Ratchanok Intanon powered past Luise Heim 21-12 21-16 in the opening singles, Jongkolphan Kititharakul/Rawinda Prajonjai fought past Isabel Herttrich/Carla Nelte 21-14 13-21 21-10.
Nitchaon Jindapol was tested in the second game by Yvonne Li but came through in straight games, 21-12 21-18.
“It was tough to play in this big hall, there’s a strong wind, and I haven’t played so many big tournaments to get used to it,” said Yvonne Li. “It was quite difficult for me in the beginning but in the second game I was able to keep up with her. I should’ve stayed strong and keep my head focussed but didn’t play accurately at the end. We’re in a tough group with three strong Asian countries, but we have nothing to lose. We’ll just try to get the best results and enjoy the experience.”
Thailand put the finishing touches through Puttita Supajirakul/Sapsiree Taerattanachai in the second doubles and Busanan Ongbamrungphan in the third singles.
“It was a great atmosphere in there, with a lot of people cheering for us,” said Supajirakul. “We were really happy to see them come and support us. We have Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei next and we hope we can come on top of our group. We didn’t feel nervous at all although there are a lot of expectations from our supporters. We will take it one match at a time and enjoy ourselves out there.”
In Group A, Canada pulverised under-strength India, who were without singles star Pusarla V Sindhu and doubles pair Ashwini Ponnappa/Sikki Reddy.
Michelle Li led the way for Canada, getting her first win over Saina Nehwal, 15-21 21-16 21-16 to effectively shut the door on India.
“I think it was a good opportunity because she’s been playing well and it is nice to play against her in the Uber Cup, and I’m happy to get the win,” said Michelle Li.
“In the past I’ve never been able to beat her; this is my first win. The last I played her was a while ago; she recently won the Commonwealth Games and I knew it was going to be tough, I knew she’s fitter than before. We both suffered injuries and had surgeries after the Olympics, so it was nice that we both could play at a high level. I had to be patient and stay in the rallies and wait for the opportunity to attack. Sometimes I rush too much and that’s one of my weaknesses, but today I played pretty well in terms of being patient and waiting for my chances.”
Victory over India, Li said, would open up the opportunity for Canada to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Rachel Honderich made it 2-0 for Canada, before Meghana Jakkampudi/Poorvisha S Ram pulled one back for India in the doubles, over Michelle Tong/Josephine Wu.
But Brittney Tam and Rachel Honderich/Kristen Tsai were able to shut out further resistance and help Canada to a 4-1 result.
In Group C, Korea began their campaign with a 5-0 rout of Mauritius, winning all their matches in under 30 minutes.