Badminton: China dominate group play in Thomas, Uber Cup opening day

China's Chen Long in action during the 2016 Badminton Asia Championships, on May 1, 2016.
China's Chen Long in action during the 2016 Badminton Asia Championships, on May 1, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI (AFP) - The Chinese men and women's teams defeated their opponents handily in commanding 5-0 wins during the opening round of group play at the Thomas and Uber Cups on Sunday, as they kicked off the world badminton team championships on home soil in Kunshan, Jiangsu.

In early Thomas Cup action, top-ranked shuttler Chen Long led the Chinese men's squad in a rout over Mexico with a dominating 21-12, 21-7 performance against Lino Munoz, while world No. 6 Tian Houwei finished off Job Castillo 21-7, 21-12.

In doubles action, Hong Wei and Zheng Siwei swept Lopez Andres and Luis Ramon Garrido 21-12, 21-15, and Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen starched Munoz and Castillo, 21-3, 21-9, in 32 minutes flat.

"The Chinese are so fast. We learnt a lot," said Castillo, according to the Badminton World Federation.

The nine-time Thomas Cup champions will face off next against France on Monday.

In the Uber Cup, runaway favourites China swept Malaysia, thanks to stellar performances from world No. 3 Li Xuerui and No. 4 Wang Yihan, who dispatched their challengers in straight sets.

Tang Yuanting and Yu Yang salvaged a win after dropping the second set against Malaysia's Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei. They prevailed in the end, 21-18, 14-21, 21-11.

And China's Sun Yu rounded out the day's drubbing with a 21-9, 21-10 win over Malaysia's Sonia Cheah.

China's men won the biennial Thomas Cup five times in a row until their shock loss to Japan in 2014, while their women have collected eight of the last nine titles in the concurrent Uber Cup.

In earlier play, the Thai men's team faced steady competition from India but prevailed 3-2. On the women's side, star shuttler Ratchanok Intanon led the Thais to a 4-1 win over Hong Kong.

Both competitions feature 16 teams divided into four groups, with the top two in each qualifying for the quarter-finals.