Japan look in ominous form to retain Uber Cup crown

AARHUS (Denmark) • Defending Uber Cup champions Japan eased into the quarter-finals of this year's women's team event after they beat Germany 5-0 yesterday in their second group-stage tie.

World No. 5 Akane Yamaguchi gave her team an early lead as she beat 24th-ranked Yvonne Li 21-17, 22-20 before Yuki Fukushima and Misaki Matsutomo rolled past Linda Efler and Isabel Lohau 21-13, 21-8 to double Japan's advantage.

World No. 15 Sayaka Takahashi, part of the 2018 winning team, secured the decisive point for the Japanese, needing just 26 minutes to dispose of 180th-ranked Ann-Kathrin Spori 21-9, 21-10 at the Ceres Arena in Aarhus.

The fourth match saw Mayu Matsumoto and Nami Matsuyama beat doubles pair Stine Kuspert and Emma Moszczynski 21-15, 21-15. Asuka Takahashi then completed the one-sided victory as she beat Antonia Schaller 21-6, 21-15.

Japan had beaten France 5-0 on Saturday in the opening tie. They face Indonesia, who have beaten Germany and France 4-1, today in the final group game with the winners sealing top spot in Group A.

South Korea and Chinese Taipei also booked their spots in the last eight after posting 5-0 wins yesterday over Egypt and Tahiti respectively for their second group wins.

China, who have won this badminton competition a record 14 times but were stunned by tournament hosts Thailand in the semi-finals three years ago, are in fine form in Denmark. They swept past Canada and Malaysia 5-0 and round off their group campaign against the Danes today.

Olympic champion Chen Yufei said after her 21-13, 21-11 win over Malaysian Eoon Qi Xuan on Sunday: "This is my first game in this tournament and it's normal that I had some problems in the first set.

"But I collected points quickly as she was making more mistakes. I believe things will become much better in the coming matches."

Her compatriot and world No. 9 He Bingjiao was even more dominant in her 21-8, 21-3 thrashing of Siti Nurshuhaini, needing just 23 minutes to finish the contest.

"I cannot decide who would be my opponent and how strong she is," said He.

"The only thing I can do is to fight 100 per cent, no matter whom I face. I'll try every effort to motivate myself."

In the concurrently held men's Thomas Cup, Thailand faced Indonesia yesterday in Group A, with Chinese Taipei also in contention.

The result was not available at press time.

XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2021, with the headline 'Japan look in ominous form to retain Uber Cup crown'. Subscribe