2008 UBER CUP Final: Uber’s Winning Eleven

Uber Cup defending champions China needed the service of only 4 players to lift their eleventh Uber Cup in Jakarta this evening. Xie Xingfang, Zhang Jiewen, Yang Wei and Lu […]

ImageUber Cup defending champions China needed the service of only 4 players to lift their eleventh Uber Cup in Jakarta this evening. Xie Xingfang, Zhang Jiewen, Yang Wei and Lu Lan delivered the 3 consecutive points China needed to lift the 2008 Uber Cup.

By Jan Lin, reporting live from Senayan Stadium, Jakarta. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

China’s world #1 and #2 singles players – Xie Xingfang and Lu Lan – gave their lower-ranked Indonesian opponents no chance to make an impact for their team this evening, while China’s #1 women’s doubles pair were stretched to 3 games by world #9 Lilyana Natsir/Vita Marissa.

Xie was classy in her disposal of Indonesia’s #1 singles representative Maria Kristin Yulianti, who had a nervous start to the match. Maria was finally able to find her composure in the second game, but it was still not good enough to tame the lanky Chinese, who took 41 minutes to seal the first point for China by scores of 21-8, 21-15.

Maria revealed in a post-match interview, “Xie is so tall and has very quick smashes. It is difficult to play against her. I think only 2 or 3 players in the world can beat her.

Xie (pictured right) wore smiles of relief at the post-match press conference, saying, “It was a relatively easy game because my opponent wasn’t able to play at my level… And I have adjusted to the conditions of the stadium after 4 days and could therefore adjust my mentality accordingly for the match.

Indonesia’s #1 doubles pair refused to let China get away with a quick win as they came back from a one-game deficit to take the match into a tiebreaker. The Chinese, despite being ranked 8 rungs above their opponents, were far from dominant last night.

ImageZhang/Yang needed the divine assistance from the windy court conditions to edge out Natsir/Vita in the tiebreaker. The Indonesians were trailing by a massive distance in the third game until they had a change of sides and started playing against the wind, which enabled them to control and give more power to their smashes as they caught up to level the game at 16-16.

At the post-match press conference, Natsir/Marissa (pictured bottom left) revealed that their concentration snapped after they had tied the game, which resulted in their eventual 15-21, 19-21, 21-16 defeat. With just one match away from lifting her first (and China’s sixth consecutive) Uber Cup, China’s second singles player of the night, Lu Lan, wasted no time in crushing Indonesia’s Uber hope.

Lu Lan clearly lived up to her world #2 billing with her polished and immaculate performance last night as she outplayed Indonesia’s Adriyanti Firdasari in straight games of 21-12, 21-10 and completed her virgin Uber Cup mission for China with icing on the cake.

China’s chief coach, Li Yong Bo, was clearly a pleased man at the press conference. Li said, “We are very pleased to have won the Uber Cup six times in a row. I must say that winning the sixth has been harder than winning the five consecutive. And I attribute it to the fact that the standard of women’s badminton has risen all over the world, Indonesia’s especially.

I do not disagree that the standard of our Chinese women has fallen slightly, but I think with the rise in the standard of women’s players from other countries, this will give my players the needed competition and motivation to raise their game. Competition is essential for players to take their game further.

And the formula behind our success is the great team spirit, excellent support staff and the persevering spirit each player possesses. My players are not easily contented with where they are at and are always striving to better their game.

ImageThe Indonesian ladies were not downcast by the defeat as they had already done one better than their semi-final goal at the 2008 Uber Cup. Indonesia’s ladies’ team manager and mother of 3, Susi Susanti, revealed, “To get into the Uber final is a privilege.  The girls have given their best at the 2008 Uber Cup and they deserve to be congratulated despite their defeat today.

We had hoped to get 3 points from the first doubles and the second and third singles. Even though, Maria’s leg was slightly injured today, I feel she was still able to put up a good fight against Xie. I hope Maria can continue to improve on her game and not be contented with her current performance.

The women’s singles have shone at this tournament and I feel that it is only the beginning for them. We currently have a good coaching setup for both singles and doubles for the women’s team, as well as, full facilities. It is a very promising beginning.

In fact, the women’s team we have now is promising. Their development from here onwards is very important.  There must be continuous development. Getting into the final this year is a very promising start.  They’ve demonstrated what that are capable of.

The development of the men’s and women’s teams has to be on par.  One shouldn’t supersede the other. The development of badminton in Indonesia also needs the cooperation of PBSI and the government. I hope the women’s team can be rewarded for getting into the final, from the government perhaps.

It has to be demonstrated that there is a future for women to play badminton for the nation. This goes back to the main area the women’s team has to work on – their mentality. They have to believe they can win and have the desire to win.

About Jan Lin