NEW DELHI - A charged-up China defended their Uber Cup title with a 3-1 victory against Japan in Saturday's final to find some solace after the same opponents had ended the badminton powerhouse's decade-old Thomas Cup reign barely 24 hours ago.
World's top two women players Li Xuerui and Wang Shixian won their singles matches in straight games before Zhao Yunlei and Wang Xiaoli joined hands to clinch the second doubles to secure the biennial women's team championship for the 13th time. Olympic champion Li would not concede Friday's Thomas Cup defeat had hurt the entire contingent but world number two Wang was more forthright.
"It did give us some extra motivation," said Wang, who took 45 minutes to down Japan's Sayaka Takahashi 21-16 21-12 at the Siri Fort Complex. "People are looking into China's defeat because China does not lose that often," the shuttler, beads of sweat all over her face and neck, said through a translator.
"We cannot be beaten easily. Four years ago in Uber Cup, China lost to Korea. I was in that team and I know that feeling. We were so depressed. The men's team goes through the same but we will come back." World number one Li gave China the perfect start with her 21-15 21-5 victory against Japan's number one Minatsu Mitani.
Li began sluggishly, trailing 6-10 before she put her foot down and won the next 12 points to surge ahead never to look back again in the 36-minute contest. Her dominant display made the second game a completely lop-sided contest but Li, who did not seem very happy despite receiving the Female Player of the Year award from the Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Friday.
"My name is wrongly spelt on the BWF award. This is the first time I got this award and I want the right one," she said in mock anger before a BWF official promised to fix it for her. Japan clawed back into the contest when Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi claimed the first doubles 21-18, 21-9 before Wang put China ahead.