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Tough for China to defend Uber Cup

May 15th, 2016
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Tough for China to defend Uber Cup

KUNSHAN: Statistics overwhelmingly favour the defending champions but it will not be easy for the mighty Chinese when the 26th edition of the Uber Cup Finals gets underway here on Sunday.

China have won the Uber Cup a record 13-times (1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2014) and finished runners-up thrice - in 1994, 1996 and 2010.

Japan are the next best - winning the much sought after silverware five times, in 1966, 1969, 1972, 1978 and in 1981, while Indonesia have laid their hands on the trophy three times (1975, 1994, 1996) with the United States also winning it three times (1957, 1960, 1963). South Korea is the only other country to have won the Uber Cup and this was in 2010.

In February this year, China retained the women's team title in the Asian Team Championships in Wuhan but it was a struggle for the mighty Chinese who had to bring out their best before winning 3-2 against Japan in the final.

And it is Japan, the No 2 seeds in the Uber Cup, who pose a serious threat to China. This is despite fielding their singles aces, Li Xuerui, Wang Yihan and Wang Shixian. 

China are seeded No 1 and are drawn in Group A together with Malaysia, Denmark and Spain, powered by world No 1 Carolina Marin, who is also the European champion. Second seeds Japan are in Group D with India, Australia and Germany.

Japan are seen as the rising power in women's badminton. Chinese players used to be very strong and backed by good coaches. This scenario, however, has changed to a more level field with players from the top 10 ranked badminton playing nations having an equal chance.

The Chinese aces have been beaten by Japanese, Indian, Thai and European players lately. 

In the last edition in New Delhi the Chinese beat Japan 3-1 in the final. Li Xuerui tamed Minatsu Mitani 21-15, 21-5 in the first singles before Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi (the current world No 1) made it all square with a 21-18, 21-9 win in the first doubles against Bao Yixin-Tang Jinhua.

Wang Shixian gave China their second point with a 21-16, 21-12 win over Sayaka Takahashi in the second singles. Wang Xiaolin-Zhao Yunlei clinched the winning point with a 21-13, 21-6 win in the second doubles to take the Uber Cup for the 13th time.

Wang Yihan did not play the third singles  against Akane Yamaguchi after China secured an unassailable 3-1 lead.

China have retained seven players from the 2014 winning team and their experience may come in handy in their bid to win the Uber Cup for the 14th time.

Those from the 2014 team were Li Xuerui, Wang Yihan, Wang Shixian, Sun Yu, Tiang Qing, Zhao Yunlei and Tang Jinhua.

CHINA UBER CUP SQUAD
Singles
Li Xuerui
Wang Yihan
Wang Shixian
Sun Yu

Doubles
Tang Yuanting-Yu Yang
Tian Qing-Zhao Yunlei
Tang Jinhua-Chen Qingchen


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