Defending champions China maintained their dominance in world badminton when they captured their 12th Sudirman Cup title at Energia Areena in Vantaa, Finland on Sunday.
The week-long biennial mixed team championship Sudirman Cup was organized by Badminton Finland under the auspices of the Badminton World Federation.
In a one-sided summit clash of the Sudirman Cup's seventeenth edition, holders China defeated Japan 3-1 to stamp their authority in style.
Despite the absence of 2016 Rio Olympic champion Chen Long and world No. 4 men’s doubles combination Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen, the China national team proved too strong for the three-time finalists Japan in the Sudirman Cup final.
China, playing in their 14th straight Sudirman Cup final, got off to a perfect start through scratch men’s doubles pair He Ji Ting and Zhaou Hao Dong. The unranked duo notched up an upset 21-17, 14-21, 21-16 win over world No. 16 Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi. In a hard fought battle, the Chinese doubles team won the marathon encounter in an hour and 16 minutes.
Akane Yamaguchi stuns Tokyo Games gold medallist Chen Yu Fei in Sudirman Cup women’s singles
Japan, however, leveled the score through women’s singles. World No. 5 Akane Yamaguchi stunned reigning Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei 21-19, 21-16 in 49 minutes to tie the score 1-1.
Yamaguchi played brilliantly to surprise Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Chen Yu Fei in straight games in the crucial women’s singles. It was Yamaguchi’s eleventh win over world No. 2 Chen Yu Fei in their nineteenth battle on the international circuit.
World No. 1 Kento Momota losing men’s singles dents Japanese hopes in the Sudirman Cup
Much was expected from Kento Momota. The world No. 1 Japanese was pitted against Shi Yu Qui in the men’s singles. The Japanese team management was hopeful of a win from Momota but he failed to live up to expectations.
World No. 10 Shi Yu Qi upstaged Kento Momota in three games 21-13, 8-21, 21-12. The high-voltage battle lasted for just over an hour.
“I have been studying Momota’s game here at the Sudirman Cup, and I noticed that he defends more. I made use of the advantage and played more on the attack. Unlike Viktor Axelsen (Denmark), who controls me more, I controlled Momota today. I’m very happy to have contributed a point for my country,” Yu Qi told the BWF website just after the match.
Women’s doubles world No. 2 Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan then made sure the trophy stayed with China with a vital victory. The formidable pair overcame the spirited challenge from Japan’s scratch pair Mayu Matsumoto and Misaki Matsutomo with a 21-17, 21-16 victory in 59 minutes.
In the semi-finals played on Saturday, China had blanked Korea 3-0, while Japan stopped the strong Malaysians 3-1 to seal their respective places in Sunday's final.
Sudirman Cup Final Results
China beat Japan 3-1
He Ji Ting-Zhou Hao Dong bt Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi 21-17, 14-21, 21-16 (76 minutes)
Chen Yu Fei lost to Akane Yamaguchi 19-21, 16-21 (49 minutes)
Shi Yu Qi bt Kento Momota 21-13, 8-21, 21-12 (61 minutes)
Chen Qing Chen-Jia Yi Fan bt Mayu Matsumoto-Misaki Matsutomo 21-17, 21-16 (59 minutes).