China claim a 12th Sudirman Cup crown against rivals Japan in high-quality final
China defeated Japan 3-1 in a final that was high on quality to seal a 12th Sudirman Cup title and once again stamp their dominance on badminton in Finland on Sunday.
It was a repeat of the result in 2019, with China besting their great rivals, who were looking to become just the fourth country to claim a Sudirman Cup title. It was also a night of redemption for some in the China camp, not least for Shi Yuqi who had endured a difficult Sudirman Cup campaign this year.
The match score was poised at 1-1 after the men’s pairing of He Jiting and Zhou Haodong secured a 21-17, 14-21, 21-16 win against Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi, only for it to be cancelled out by a surprise loss for Tokyo Olympic champion Chen Yufei.
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The 23-year-old Chen Yufei had been on a four-match winning streak at the Energia Areena in Vantaa, but went down in singles to world number five Akane Yamaguchi in straight games.
“At the last Sudirman Cup I was in the same circumstances and I lost, so I didn’t want a repeat,” Yamaguchi said. “She is the Olympic gold medallist so I was determined to challenge her.
“I just wanted to play a steady game. I knew she had played some long matches and would be tired. I hadn’t played so many long matches, so I was quite fresh.”
Shi had won two and lost two of his singles matches going into the high-stakes final against world number one Kento Momota, but the world No 10 produced a stunning upset to take the match 21-13, 8-21, 21-12 in 61 minutes to hand China an unlikely 2-1 lead in the contest.
“I have been studying Momota’s game here at the Sudirman Cup,” Shi said, “and I noticed that he defends more.
“I made use of that and played more on the attack. Unlike against Viktor Axelsen (of Denmark in the quarter-finals), who controlled me more, I controlled Momota today.
“I’m very happy to have contributed a point for my country,” Shi added.
The outcome then rested in the hands of women’s doubles duo Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan, the world’s number two pair who lost out so spectacularly on Olympic gold this summer when they were beaten by Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu in the Tokyo final.
Chen Qingchen and Jia eased China to victory against Mayu and Misaki Matsumoto 21-17, 21-16 inside one hour.
China head coach Zhang Jun said the victory was testament to his team’s strength of spirit.
“After the Olympics, we motivated the team once again,” Zhang said. “We lacked some of our best men’s doubles players for this Sudirman Cup, and we had some difficulties against Thailand and Denmark, but we decided to use our young players and we trusted their ability, and they did really well today.”
It was a fourth consecutive Sudirman Cup loss for Japan against their fierce rivals to the west having also lost out to them in the 2015 final and the 2017 semi-finals.
This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia. For more SCMP stories, please download our mobile app, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.
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