Japan storm back to top Uber group

Sayaka Sato playing her part in Japan's comeback win against India.
Sayaka Sato playing her part in Japan's comeback win against India.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KUNSHAN (Jiangsu) • India advanced to badminton's Uber Cup quarter-finals at the Kunshan Sports Centre in China yesterday, even though they lost 2-3 to Japan.

In the teams' final group game, it was the Indians who led first, edging ahead 2-0.

The Japanese, however, came back strong to claim victory in the last three matches, which also put them on top of Group D. India finished in second place, with the top two teams of each group advancing to the quarter-finals.

London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal was impressive in the first match, defeating Nozomi Okuhara 21-18, 21-6 to give India the lead.

P.V. Sindhu won the next tie for India, beating Akane Yamaguchi 21-11, 21-18.

It was then when Japan made a comeback in the doubles.

Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi got the better of Jwala Gutta and Sikki Reddy 21-11, 21-8 and brought the score back to 2-1.

World No. 12 Sayaka Sato also clinched a win as she overcame Ruthvika Shivani Gadde 21-7, 21-14 in the third singles.

Tied at 2-2, the final decisive match was down to Japanese duo Shizuka Matsuo and Mami Naito, who defeated India's Ashwini Ponappa and Sindhu 15-21, 21-19, 21-16.

Japan, runners-up in 2014, are through after three victories in Group D. India won their previous two rounds against Germany and Australia 5-0. They will be joined by China, Denmark, Thailand, Indonesia, Chinese Taipei and South Korea in the last eight.

In the Thomas Cup, China yesterday avenged their shock 2014 semi-final defeat by Japan. At press time, the tournament favourites had an unassailable 3-0 lead in their Group A clash.

THOMAS AND UBER CUP
Q-finals (StarHub Ch201, 1pm &7pm).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2016, with the headline 'Japan storm back to top Uber group'. Print Edition | Subscribe