TUC 2014 SF – Japan blanks China, into first final

Kento Momota gained back his team’s confidence by taking the last two golden games to create a historic moment in Japanese badminton history – a golden ticket to a Thomas […]

gained back his team’s confidence by taking the last two golden games to create a historic moment in Japanese badminton history – a golden ticket to a Thomas Cup final, for the very first time!

By Emzi Regala.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Kento Momota fell 2 points short in the first game of his match against Du Pengyu and narrowly lost it 23-25.  But afterwards he made everyone on his team and cheering back in Japan forget this little disappointment.

As Kento won the final rally of the third and decider game to register 21 points to the Japan scoreboard, it took a few moments for beleaguered Chinese fans to realize the unthinkable.  China is not going to be in the Thomas Cup finals for the 6th time in a row instead Japan is going to the finals for the very first time.

In the first match, Kenichi Tago left nothing to chance as he completely dominated the world #2 Chen Long with his explosive performance.  Tago never allowed Chen to get into his rhythm never giving the Chinese a chance to catch up.  Tago’s 21-12, 21-11 win gave the delighted Japan team a 1-0 advantage.

The second match was a battle of the doubles pair between Chai Biao / Hong Wei and Kenichi Hayakawa / Hiroyuki Endo.  The Chinese duo holds a psychological advantage having won 3 of their 4 previous encounters including the last time they met, in April at the Singapore Open.  Hayakawa/Endo, however, held their nerves to snatch a close 22-20 first game win and sustained momentum to pull through in the second game 21-19, giving Japan a surprising 2-0 advantage.

Du Pengyu and the Chinese team found themselves in uncharted territory, a do-or-die situation.  Kento Momota, on the other hand, bore the pressure of shutting the Chinese door to the 3 Olympic champions waiting in line at the other end of the court – Lin Dan, Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan.

Kento, who just two years ago was battling Chinese opposition in junior team events, showcased to the world the heart of a Japanese samurai as he fought hard to eradicate China’s last rays of hope, treating spectators all over the world to a 23-25, 21-18, 21-14 heart-pounding match.

China to defend their Uber Cup title

The Uber Cup tie was a completely different story for the China team.  There was nothing much that Korea could do to appease the power and dominance of Chinese women shuttlers as they succumbed to a 0-3 tie bidding goodbye this year’s Uber Cup tournament.

Olympic Champion Li Xuerui continues her clean slate against Sung Ji Hyun, having won over the Korean#1 6 times in as many encounters.  Bao Yixin and Tang Jinhua continue to produce superb performances which Jang Ye Na / Kim So Young couldn’t keep up to.

In the third match Bae Yeon Ju tried her best to extend the tie but Wang Shixian once again proved to be too strong to overcome, extending her winning streak over the Korean to 12 straight matches, Bae’s only victory having come in junior play in 2007.

China will be especially intent on bringing the Uber Cup back home especially after their male team-mates suffered their shocking upset.

Click here for complete Friday results.

About Emzi Regala