Badminton: China sweep Japan to take Sudirman Cup

DONGGUAN, China (AFP) - China won their sixth consecutive Sudirman Cup on Sunday, defeating Japan, which had reached the badminton tournament's finals for the first time.

Thousands welcomed home team China with horns and drums as they entered and huddled to chants of "go China, go", with jeers heard when the Japanese team arrived on the court in the southern Chinese city of Dongguan.

China swept Japan 3-0 in a series of tightly contested matches during the final day of the event, with Chinese superstar Lin Dan jumping in the air and pumping his fist after winning his men's single match against Japan's Takuma Ueda 21-15, 21-13.

"It (the win) means a lot to me because I was in the men's singles for the finals and made the contribution for our team's win," he told reporters after receiving his gold medal.

But the 31-year-old Lin also said he felt a bit nervous coming into the match.

"I had the confidence to beat Ueda, but I couldn't tell why I felt a little nervous and pressure when I played the game," he said, adding: "We wanted to have the consecutive win to keep the Sudirman Cup in China."

Lin also said that the Japanese badminton team would be a strong opponent for China in the upcoming Thomas Cup in 2016.

"I never thought that Japan's victory last year in the Thomas Cup was an accident because we've seen a lot of strong opponents from Japan, Denmark and Korea," he said.

"Next year is also the Olympics so we need to have good performance in the Thomas and Uber Cup."

China's Li Xuerui, the top-seeded women's singles player, exchanged leads with her opponent Akane Yamaguchi in the first game, but ultimately handed the Japanese a defeat, winning 23-21, 21-14.

"Because it's a big contest, I felt pressure. The reason why the score was so close in the first game was because I made a few mistakes," she told reporters after the game.

"She's improved very quickly," Li said of the 17-year-old, who she has played three times in total.

"Generally speaking, the young Japanese players pose a challenge to China."

Yamaguchi told reporters Li handled the pressure of the match better.

Japan's coach Park Joo Bong, a former top South Korean doubles specialist, said that although China remains a very strong team, his players are also getting better.

"Today we lost 3-0 because China is a strong team, they have always been a very strong team. In the last two or three years, our players are getting a bit closer," he told reporters.

China's Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan also contributed to the nation's 10th win at the Sudirman Cup, which was first held in 1989, winning 21-17, 20-22, 21-17 in a tight opening men's doubles against Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa.

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