General

Chen Yufei wins vital match for China (Photo: BWF)
Unstoppable China win 11th Sudirman Cup
Date: 5/26/2019 12:19 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
sMany Badminton fans anticipated the emerging force of Japan to perhaps do what no other nation has yet achieved in the Sudirman Cup. Beat China in China. While everyone expected a close final, nobody expected the utter dominance and class displayed by China. 

First up was Men’s Doubles, with Japan opting to go with their lower ranked pair (6) in Yuta Watanabe and Hiroyuki Endo, rather than world number twos Kamura and Sonoda. This was namely due to their recent Asia Championship quarter-final victory over the tall Chinese pair of Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen. So, hoped for the same again. 

There was a clear defensive game-plan from Endo and Watanabe, however the current World Champions believed in their attack and stuck with it. Eventually gaining momentum, using the crowd to their advantage and taking a 1-0 lead in the tie with a 21-18, 21-10 win. 

Similarly, to the Men’s Doubles, the Japanese had Akane Yamaguchi coming into her Women’s Singles match against Chen Yufei with a recent Asia Championship victory, which was also on Chinese soil. Yamaguchi started positively and took the opening game. There were opportunities in the second game for Yamaguchi to press her opponent to tie the match overall. But with the match going to a decider, the crowd came alive and willed Chen Yufei towards the finishing line, and with almost a completely empty tank, she made it, winning the match 17-21, 21-16, 21-17.

Only one month to go

Athleticism, accuracy and deception
With China just needing one more win to have their hands on the Sudirman Cup once again, Japan needed to dig in. Up steps their talisman Kento Momota, who faced Shi Yuqi in the Men’s Singles. World number one faces world number two. And sensationally once again, a repeat of the Asia Championship final, which went in favour of Japan. 

Momota took the opening game relatively comfortably. Then there was an almighty swing in momentum towards Shi. Unbelievably winning the game 21-5. It was thought that Momota was refocusing his efforts for the deciding game. But despite him winning the first few points in the third game, Shi Yuqi was just getting started and pulled off a fantastic display of athleticism, accuracy and deception. It is not often you write this, but Momota had no answer at all, with the match ending 15-21, 21-5, 21-11 to Shi. 

As soon as Shi turn to his team with his hands aloft, his teammates were already charging towards him to celebrate, led by Jia Yifan. China managed to masterfully overturn the three matchups they lost in the Asia Championships, to win 3-0, regaining their crown as the best in the world and lift the Sudirman Cup for the 11th time. A truly remarkable achievement. But I think we will be seeing Japan in the final again soon enough. 

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