Japan claims maiden Thomas Cup title
The Japanese women's badminton team failed to win the Uber Cup final against China Saturday, but their men did not disappoint and went on to clinch their maiden World Men's Team Championship to lift the Thomas Cup at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here Sunday.
Japan took home their first gold after beating five-time champions Malaysia 3-2 in a thrilling final which lasted almost six hours.
Malaysia, playing their first final since 2002, had to be content with the silver. The most successful team ever Indonesia, with 13 titles, and defending champions China, with nine titles, took home the bronze after losing their respective semifinals.
Two-time Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei gave Malaysia the perfect start they needed by beating World No.4 Kenichi Tago 21-12, 21-16 in 45 minutes. In the process, the reigning World No.1 scalped his 16th victory out of an incredible 17 meetings against Tago.
However, first time finalists Japan, who also ousted powerhouse China in the semifinal Friday, made sure they took the competition to their opponents and won the next two matches to take the lead in the tie.
Japan's World No.3 doubles combination of Kenichi Hayakawa and Hiroyuki Endo had to encounter Boon Heong Tan and Thien How Hoon in a marathon match which lasted an hour and 16 minutes. Though Hayakawa and Endo lost the first game 12-21 they came back strongly to win the next two games 21-17 and 21-19 and level the contest.
Later in the second singles, World No.14 and 2012 World Junior Champion Kento Momota easily took care of Chong Wei Feng 21-15, 21-17 in 39 minutes to level their head-to-head to 1-all and provide Japan a 2-1 lead.
But World No.13 pair of Keigo Sonoda and Takeshi Kamura could not finish it up for Japan and lost to scratch combination of V. Shem Goh and Wee Kiong Tan 21-19, 17-21, 12-21 in an hour and five minutes.
In the end it boiled down to a tense and thrilling clash between World No.25 Takuma Ueda of Japan and Malaysia's World No.66 Daren Liew with the latter having won the only match the two had played yet.
Ueda appeared more confident and won the first game 21-12. He was leading the second game until Liew got into his rhythm and unleashed some exquisite smashes to claw back and level the match by taking the second game 21-18.
Ueda maintained the lead throughout the all-deciding third game by his Malaysian opponent came back each time. But the Japanese found nerves at the right moment to come out 21-17 victorious and help Japan win their first Thomas Cup title.
Though Malaysia are the third most successful country in the history of the tournament with five titles, they have not managed to win the coveted trophy since 1992 despite reaching the final four times in 1994, 1998, 2002 and now in 2014.
(Posted on 25-05-2014)