China's uber-sweet win over South Korea

Chen Qingchen (right) and Tang Yuanting are ecstatic after sealing the winning point against Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee for China's 14th Uber Cup title.
Chen Qingchen (right) and Tang Yuanting are ecstatic after sealing the winning point against Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee for China's 14th Uber Cup title. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A brave but ultimately futile show by South Korean Sung Ji Hyun against China's Li Xuerui in the first singles put the hosts on the way to victory.
A brave but ultimately futile show by South Korean Sung Ji Hyun against China's Li Xuerui in the first singles put the hosts on the way to victory. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Li & Co send rivals packing in Cup final to make up for male team-mates' shock loss

KUNSHAN (Jiangsu) • Olympic champion Li Xuerui led China to victory over South Korea in the Uber Cup final yesterday, securing the country's 14th world badminton women's team championship in dominant fashion.

The hosts rarely surrendered command over the court during their 3-1 triumph in front of a packed home crowd in the eastern city of Kunshan, near Shanghai.

Li, the world No. 3, brushed off an early deficit after dropping the first game to seventh-ranked Sung Ji Hyun. The Olympic gold medallist rallied back for the win by controlling the pace and keeping the South Korean out of sync with repeated drop shots in the 14-21, 21-13, 21-10 victory.

"Every step in the team match is one step for myself," Li told a news conference after the match, adding that she planned to celebrate "quietly" after the week-long event.

South Korea's sixth-ranked doubles team Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan prevented a whitewash, powering through a 16-21, 21-17, 25-23 scrap against the world No. 4 duo of Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei that clocked in at 94 minutes.

Wang Shixian put China back in the win column as she exhausted Kim Hyo Min, moving the shuttlecock across the court at will during the 21-13, 21-12 rout.

But the world No. 6 played down her individual efforts and Olympic ambitions as Rio approaches, saying she was proud to be "fighting for our team, for our national team".

Chen Qingchen and Tang Yuanting delivered the third and final victory in the best-of-five series by beating Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee in straight games - 21-14, 21-16.

With the championship sealed, the fans in attendance unleashed a deafening approval of the pair's spirited performance as their team-mates rushed onto the court to celebrate.

The victory was all the sweeter for the home fans who had earlier watched their men's team being knocked out by South Korea in the Thomas Cup quarter-finals.

The Koreans, who were aiming to end their six-year drought at the Uber Cup, were unable to find their groove during the tie and suffered in the absence of their second singles player Bae Yeon Ju, who was sidelined by an ankle injury suffered on court on Friday night.

China have won three straight Uber Cups and 14 in total since the team first started competing in the tournament in 1984.

In today's Thomas Cup final, Denmark will be hoping to land the prestigious men's team title for the first time in nine attempts when they take on 13-time champions Indonesia.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 22, 2016, with the headline 'China's uber-sweet win over South Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe