Badminton: China recover from early setback against Japan to win Thomas Cup for 10th time

China's Liu Yuchen (centre) celebrating with teammates after he and doubles partner Li Junhui defeated Japan's Yuta Watanabe and Keigo Sonoda during their Thomas Cup final in Bangkok on May 27, 2018.
China's Liu Yuchen (centre) celebrating with teammates after he and doubles partner Li Junhui defeated Japan's Yuta Watanabe and Keigo Sonoda during their Thomas Cup final in Bangkok on May 27, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

China are back on top of the pile in men's badminton after a thrilling 3-1 win over an unfancied but battling Japan in the Thomas Cup final in Bangkok on Sunday (May 27).

The top seeds, whose previous title came in 2012, clinched the winner through the second doubles pair of Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen, who came from behind to beat Keigo Sonoda and Yuta Watanabe 17-21, 21-19, 22-20, after the Japanese squandered two match points when up 20-18.

They delivered despite much pressure following the women's team's stunning defeat by hosts Thailand in the Uber Cup semi-finals.

Japan, the 2014 champions but unseeded this time round, got off to a great start through Kento Momota, who is back to his best after a ban for gambling. He shocked 2016 Olympic gold medallist Chen Long 21-9, 21-18.

China, who had much to prove after being knocked out in the quarter-finals two years ago, drew level when Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan easily beat Takuto Inoue and Yuki Kaneko 21-10, 21-18.

Shi Yuqi then put China in control by taking out Kenta Nishimoto 21-12, 21-17 in the second singles, before Li and Liu's heroics gave them a satisfying 10th Thomas Cup win.

The third singles between legend Lin Dan and Kanta Tsuneyama was not played.