UBER CUP 2014 Final – 13th Uber crown for China

China stumbled in the second match against Japan but were quick to come back in the next two matches to seal the final tie and bring home the Uber Cup […]

China stumbled in the second match against Japan but were quick to come back in the next two matches to seal the final tie and bring home the Uber Cup for the 13th time.

By Ooi Ee Lyn, Badzine Correspondent. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

China was starving to retain the Uber Cup since their men’s team crashed out in the semi-finals against Japan yesterday. They might have lost the Uber Cup to Korea in 2010, but they are back strong since they regained the crown in Wuhan two years ago. There was nothing much Japan could do to stop China, whose team was made up of the best women shuttlers in the circuit.

Back in 2012, World #1 and Olympic champion Li Xuerui (pictured right) was lined up on the third singles of the team but was never required to step on court from the beginning of the knock-out stage, as China stormed across the draw to win the title without dropping a single match. This time around, Li bore the responsibility to play the opening matches in New Delhi, all of which she won handily.

Minatsu Mitani started off looking confident to lead her team to their sixth Uber Cup victory – their fifth victory having come 33 years ago, when Kenichi Tago’s mother was part of the winning team – but she soon lost the opener to her same-aged opponent Li Xuerui, as the taller player bagged China’s first point, winning the match 21-15, 21-5 in slightly over half an hour.

Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi took over the baton to exact some payback in the next match, against Bao Yixin / Tang Jinhua. The Japanese duo claimed a point for the team by triumphing in straight games. Matsutomo/Takahashi not only ruined China’s record of winning all matches at the tournament since Sunday, but they also pocketed their first victory over Bao/Tang after three previous encounters, thus becoming only the third pair ever to beat the world #2 pair.

The tie increased in pace when world #2 Wang Shixian stepped up to prevent Japan from stealing another point from China. Sayaka Takahashi might have hoped to win her match like her sister did in the women’s doubles with Matsutomo, but she helplessly went down to Wang Shixian in 16-21, 12-21, handing China the 2-1 lead.

Although China took apart Olympic champion pairing Tian/Zhao to field Wang Xiaoli and Zhao Yunlei (pictured left) on the second doubles, the new pairing was still too much for the world #5 pair from Japan to handle. Miyuki Maeda / Reika Kakiiwa gave in to Wang/Zhao in 13-21, 6-21, 37 minutes after the match started. The moment China sealed their 3-1 victory over Japan and everyone on the Chinese team flooded onto the court to celebrate their retaining of the Uber Cup from two years ago.

After the Uber Cup faded from sight for the women, the Japanese men’s team will take a shot at fighting for the Thomas Cup in the final against Malaysia tomorrow afternoon. Will Japan be the fourth nation to carve their name on the Cup? Or will Malaysia finally bring home the Thomas Cup again after they last had it in 1992? The final showdown will kick off at 3pm local time tomorrow afternoon.

Uber Cup final result: China 3, Japan 1
WS1:  Li Xuerui beat Minatsu Mitani  21-15, 21-5
WD1: Bao Yixin / Tang Jinhua lost to Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi 18-21, 9-21
WS2: Wang Shixian beat Sayaka Takahashi  21-16, 21-12
WD2: Wang Xiaoli / Zhao Yunlei beat Miyuki Maeda Reika Kakiiwa  21-13, 21-6
WS3: Wang Yihan vs. Akane Yamaguchi [not played]

Click here for complete Uber Cup final results

About Ee-Lyn Ooi