Served by some of the finest exponents of modern-day badminton in ladies singles and doubles, China expectedly retained the Uber Cup with a 3-1 triumph over Japan on Saturday.
The clash between the two most successful teams in the ladies World team championship saw a small twist in the tale.
China was expected to win 3-0, including two singles, as the world no. 2 pair of Bao Yixin and Tang Jinhua had beaten the top Japanese duo, world no. 4 Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takashahi three times in as many meetings. But on this day, these Japanese girls had the last laugh.Turning the tables
Misaki and Ayaka turned the tables in the second match of the tie to help the five-time champion draw level at 1-1 by negating the loss suffered by teammate Minatsu Mitani to world no. 1 Li Xuerui in the opening singles.
Thereafter, China gave nothing away with Asian Games champion Wang Shixian winning the second singles and the doubles specialists Zhao Yunlei and Wang Xiaoli nailing world no. 5 Miyuki Maeda and Reika Kakiiwa with expected ease.
The result left China with its 13th title — significantly eighth from the last nine editions — from 16 successive finals.
Japan finished runner-up for the second time, the first being in 1975. Overall, the predictability of the proceedings robbed the contest of the excitement usually associated with the title-clash.
Olympic champion Li Xuerui, who first came to this venue to play the qualifying rounds of the 2010 Asian championship and walked away with the title, produced her best result in five encounters against Mitani.
She needed just 36 minutes to complete a 21-15, 21-5 victoryThough Mitani jumped to a 10-6 lead in the opening game, Xuerui settled down to race away with 12 points on the trot, mostly catching her rival short on the forecourt.
Thereafter, Mitani’s play was never the same.
In the first doubles, Chinese Bao Yixin and Tang Jinhua battled from 9-12 to lead 15-12. But the Japanese rivals bounced back to seal the opening game.
In the second, there was no catching the Japanese duo once it broke away from 1-1 to lead 11-2, and later 18-6 to make it a one-sided contest.
Wang Shixian, winner of the India Open here last month, dominated world no. 13 Sayaka Takahashi for her third victory in three meetings, all this year.
The second doubles, too, was a straight-game result in China’s favour. The Japanese led 7-5 in the opening game before the Chinese settled down to dominate the remainder of the contest.
The result (final): Uber Cup: China beat Japan 3-1 (Li Xuerui bt Minatsu Mitani 21-15, 21-5; Bao Yixin and Tang Jinhua lost to Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi 18-21, 9-21; Wang Shixian bt Sayaka Takahashi 21-16, 21-12; Zhao Yunlei and Wang Xiaoli bt Miyuki Maeka and Reika Kakiiwa 21-13, 21-6).