Hosts Thailand crash out of Uber Cup

Hosts Thailand crash out of Uber Cup

Chinese team avenges 2018 defeat to set up women's badminton final with South Korea

Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon hits a return against Chen Yu Fei of China during their women’s singles semi-final match at the 2022 Thomas and Uber Cup badminton tournament at Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani on Friday. (AFP Photo)
Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon hits a return against Chen Yu Fei of China during their women’s singles semi-final match at the 2022 Thomas and Uber Cup badminton tournament at Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani on Friday. (AFP Photo)

Defending champions China sent hosts Thailand crashing out of the Uber Cup women’s badminton tournament on Friday to set up a final clash with South Korea, who swept aside Japan.

World No.8 Ratchanok Intanon fell in straight sets (21-18, 21-12) to Chen Yu-Fei, and Pornpawee Chochuwong lost (21-15, 21-15) to He Bing Jiao at Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi. In doubles, Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan prevailed in three sets (17-21, 21-13, 21-15) over the host team’s Jongkolphan Kiritharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai.

Friday’s result was a reversal of four years ago, the last time the Uber Cup was held in Thailand, when the hosts defeated China to prevent them from reaching the final.

Several of the protagonists of that China-Thailand contest faced off on Friday, and it was a marker of how effectively China used that setback to return stronger.

Ratchanok and Chen were again slotted in the first singles, but in a reversal of the 2018 result, Chen proved too solid for the Thai star to make any headway.

Chen remembers well the 2018 defeat and how it spurred her on, leading to an Olympic gold in Tokyo 2020 and multiple other titles.

“It wouldn’t be me now without that match,” she said after Friday’s contest. “At that time, it was a big shock, and I used it as motivation to get better. When I returned to this arena I felt sentimental.”

Her compatriots Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan, meanwhile, have gone on to become the world’s best pair.

“In 2018 we were a young team and we were inexperienced,” said Jia. “We are now more mature, we’ve gone through several major events, and the team is more powerful and more confident.”

China now sport a formidable team, with depth in singles and doubles. Korea’s second singles player Kim Ga Eun admitted they faced a mountain of a task in the final, “but all the pressure is on them, and we have nothing to lose”.

World number one Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, meanwhile, suffered a second defeat in three days as Japan were dumped out by South Korea.

An Se-young’s battling win over Yamaguchi set the Koreans on their way to a 3-0 team victory.

Yamaguchi dominated the first game 21-15 against the world No.4 An. She also looked in control early in the second game, but the 20-year-old An was able to turn around a six-point deficit.

A spate of unforced errors from Yamaguchi also contributed to An’s change of fortune as she won the second game 21-18.

Yamaguchi carved out a five-point lead in the deciding game but a seven-point run from An saw Yamaguchi’s frustrations grow. Two critical errors from Yamaguchi saw the youngster gain the upper hand and then seal the match 21-18.

“During the game I tried to increase the speed of the shuttle but … I would lose control, it caused many mistakes,” Yamaguchi said afterward.


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