No country in badminton history has stamped its authority on team competitions like China. A late entrant, it made a winning debut in the 1982 Thomas Cup and the 1984 Uber Cup. Since then, it finished on the podium without fail.
After winning the first of the nine titles by beating the formidable Indonesia 5-4 in an epic final in London, China has maintained an unenviable success rate. The benchmark set by Chen Changie, Han Jian, Luan Jin and the duo of Sun Zhao-Yao Ximing in overcoming a squad, that included Liem Swie King, an ageing Rudy Hartono and a young Lius Pongoh in May 1982, exhibited the depth and quality of Chinese badminton.
In 1986, China avenged the loss suffered in 1984 to Indonesia. Facing a partisan crowd in Jakarta, Tian Bingyi and Li Yongbo claimed the decisive doubles over Liem Swie King and Bobby Ertanto for a 3-2 triumph.Yang Yang era
Thereafter, the Chinese domination was led by Yang Yang who was part of three successful Thomas Cup campaigns from 1986 to 1990. In between, he also won the 1988 Olympic gold. The trio of Yang, Xiong Guobao and Zhao Jianhua decimated the mighty Malaysians in the three singles of the 1990 final.
China reached the podium six times in succession, the closest to claiming the title being 2000 final where it lost 3-0 to Indonesia.
The others defeats came in the semifinals, twice to Malaysia and once each to Denmark and Indonesia.
China turned it around in 2004 when a young Lin Dan helped it end the title drought. In the final against Denmark, Lin gave the winning start over Peter Gade.
Then Bao Chunlai won a thriller against Kenneth Jonassen to make it 2-1 before Sang Yang and Zheng Bo settled the issue.
Since then, China has not looked back, with Lin showing the way in title-clashes against Denmark (2006), Korea (2008 and 2012) and Indonesia (2010).
Lin, the World and Olympic champion, is back. This time he may be required to play only in the third singles, if needed. But his selection shows what Thomas Cup means to China.
In Uber Cup, the Chinese domination is more pronounced. After thumping England 5-0 in its first final in 1982, China has won the title 11 more times. After winning five times in succession, till 1992, China faced disappointments twice in succession. In 1994 and 1996, Indonesia won the title by winning 3-2 and 4-1, leaving China the second best.
It was clear that the Olympic champion Susi Susanti and Mia Audina were superior in singles to the Chinese challengers like Ye Zhaoying and Zhang Ning. By this time, Indonesia had won the title a record seven times.
But the record did not last long. In the 1998 final, China exacted revenge even though Susanti and Audina served Indonesia.
Ye Zhaoying provided the winning start by beating Susanti in three games, while Gong Zhichao overpowered Audina to give China a winning 3-0 lead.
China stretched its winning sequence to six in a row by beating Denmark (2000), Korea (2002, 2004), the Netherlands (2006) and Indonesia (2008).
However, in the 2010 final, a huge shock awaited China. Korea scripted a stunning 3-1 verdict with three unexpected wins, particularly the first victory for Bae Seung Hee over Chinese spearhead Wang Yihan. The other two victories came in doubles.
But in 2012, China had its way against Korea following a 3-0 victory in the final. Wang Yihan and Wang Xin claimed the singles. In between,
the duo of Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoloi got it right against Kim Min-Jung and Ha Jung Eun.
This year, a resurgent China will be looking for its eighth title-sweep, second in succession.