HELSINKI • China’s shuttlers swept aside Japan 3-1 yesterday to win the Sudirman Cup mixed team final in Vantaa, Finland for a record-extending 12th time.
The defending champions, playing in their 14th straight final, were convincing winners over the Japanese, even though Rio Games men’s singles gold medallist Chen Long, and world No. 4 men’s doubles pair Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen were absent.
The Chinese started well as men’s doubles pair He Jiting and Zhou Haodong beat 16th-ranked Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi 21-17, 14-21, 21-16.
Japan, who were seeking their first Cup, fought back and levelled the score through women’s world No. 5 Akane Yamaguchi, who upset Tokyo Olympics women’s singles champion Chen Yufei 21-19, 21-16.
But the Chinese never relinquished the lead after 10th-ranked Shi Yuqi upstaged world No. 1 Kento Momota 21-13, 8-21, 21-12.
The second-ranked women’s doubles team of Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan then made sure the trophy stayed with China when they made light work of Japan’s Mayu Matsumoto and Misaki Matsutomo with a 21-17, 21-16 win.
On his crucial victory over Momota, Shi said: “I have been studying Momota’s game here at the Sudirman Cup, and I noticed that he defends more.
“I made use of the advantage and played more on the attack. Unlike playing (Tokyo Games men’s singles gold medallist) Viktor Axelsen, who controls me more, I controlled Momota today.
“I’m very happy to have contributed a point for my country.”
This was Japan’s fourth consecutive defeat by China, having also lost in the 2015 final in Dongguan, China and 2017 semi-finals on the Gold Coast, Australia. Besides China, only Indonesia and South Korea have tasted success since the event’s inception in 1989.
Malaysia, who have never won the Cup, shared the bronze with four-time champions South Korea.
XINHUA, ASIA NEWS NETWORK/THE STAR
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