Badminton: China reclaim Uber Cup crown with hard-fought win over Japan

Chen Qingchen (left) and Jia Yifan play against Japan during their Uber Cup doubles match in Aarhus, Denmark, on Oct 16, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

AARHUS (Xinhua) - The Chinese women's badminton team rallied past holders Japan 3-1 to claim their 15th Uber Cup in the Ceres Arena on Saturday (Oct 16).

In the opening singles, Tokyo Olympic champion Chen Yufei lost to world No. 5 Akane Yamaguchi, 21-18, 21-10.

The Chinese top singles shuttler failed to take revenge on her rival after her loss to the Japanese in the Sudirman Cup final two weeks ago.

"The two games are very much alike. Akane did a good job in covering the court," said Chen. "My moves and response to the shuttle are a bit slow. I was like running out of energy."

Olympics silver medalists Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan then have to dig deep in the next match against Japanese pair Yuki Fukushima and Mayu Matsumoto, including edging out a marathon 46-minute first game 29-27, in which the longest rally lasted 56 shots, before winning 15-21, 21-18 in 1hr 57min to level the tie.

"We're determined to win the game today," said Jia. "We trust each other and we never retreat or surrender. No matter if it is 100 minutes or 200, we never give up one single shot.

"We fought hard in the first set and saved the game for many consecutive points," said Chen Qingchen. "I enjoyed playing with my partner. I want the trophy so much and it keeps me fighting till the end."

He Bingjiao overcame Sayaka Takahashi 21-9, 21-18 before Huang Dongping and Li Wenmei sealed the victory for China with a 24-22, 23-21 win over Misaki Matsutomo and Nami Matsuyama.

Uber Cup debutante Li, 21, was thrilled to claim the winning point, saying: "When we were falling behind, or at the match point, I was not nervous at all. I played more than 100 per cent of myself and I was surprised that I was able to deliver so many super shots."

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