Badminton: China beat Japan to retain Uber Cup and clinch 13th women's title

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Favourites China swamped Japan 3-1 on Saturday to maintain a stranglehold on the women's Uber Cup badminton team championships by winning their eighth final in the last nine editions.

The Chinese, who boast the world's top three singles players, showed off their prowess in front of a handful of spectators at the Siri Fort complex in New Delhi.

World No. 1 Li Xuerui gave the champions the lead with a 21-15, 21-5 win over the 12th-ranked Minatsu Mitani in a one-sided match that lasted just 36 minutes.

Japan drew level through their doubles pair of Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi, who stunned Bao Yixin and Tang Jinhua 21-18, 21-9.

It was the only point the Chinese dropped in the championships after cruising through unscathed in three preliminary-round ties, the quarter-final and the semi-final.

World No. 2 Wang Shixian put China ahead once again by beating Sayaka Takahashi 21-16, 21-12, before Zhao Yunlei and Wang Xiaoli sealed the tie in the second doubles match.

The Chinese duo beat Miyuki Maeda and Reika Kakiiwa 21-13, 21-6 amid loud celebrations in the Chinese enclosure that included men's world champion Lin Dan.

Wang Shixian said the shock defeat of the Chinese men's team by Japan in Friday's semi-final served as an extra motivation for her.

"Yes, I was more motivated because of that," she said, speaking through a translator. "It happened to us in 2010 when we lost to South Korea in the Uber Cup final and gained revenge two years later.

"There is so much talk when we lose, but that is because we do not lose much."

Li said it had been important for her to win the first match because a good start helped the team. "I was very focused on my game," she said. "There were no special instructions from the coach."

Li was delighted to be named the woman player of 2013 by the Badminton World Federation even though she had lost the world crown to Thai teenager Ratchanok Intanon.

She said the secret of China's success was the confidence they took on court. That was evident when she fought back from 6-10 down in the first game against Mitani to reel off 12 points in a row.

"We believe in ourselves," she said. "And the award was very important for me. It is a huge recognition for the way I have played in recent months despite losing the world title."

China, who first won the Uber Cup title in 1984, have now won the championships 13 times, including eight in nine outings since 1998.

In Sunday's Thomas Cup final, Japan play Malaysia, who thrashed 13-time winners Indonesia 3-0 in the semi-finals.

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