Aaarhus, Denmark: The Chinese women’s badminton team rallied past Japan 3-1 to claim their 15th Uber Cup here in the Ceres Arena.
In the opening singles, Tokyo Olympic champion Chen Yufei lost 2-0 to world No. 5 Akane Yamaguchi, 21-18, 21-10. The Chinese top singles shuttler failed to take revenge on her old opponent after her loss to the Japanese in the Sudirman Cup final two weeks ago.
“The two games are very much alike. Akane did a good job in covering the court,” said Chen. “My moves and response to the shuttle are a bit slow. I was feeling like running out of energy.”
Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan had a tough fight against Japanese pair Yuki Fukushima and Mayu Matsumoto in the following match. It took the Chinese pair 46 minutes to snatch the first set 29-27, during which the longest rally lasted 56 shots.
The Japanese equalized the doubles match 1-1 by winning the second set 21-15. The Chinese Olympics silver medalists sealed the victory by winning the decider 21-18, equalizing the team score 1-1.
One hour and 57 minutes is the longest match duration for the Chinese duo since they paired up.
“We’re determined to win the game today,” said Jia. “We trust each other and we never retreat or surrender. No matter it is 100 minutes or 200, we never give up one single shot.”
“We fought hard in the first set and saved the game for many consecutive points,” said Chen Qingchen. “I enjoyed playing with my partner. I want the trophy so much and it keeps me fighting till the end.”
In the following match of singles, He Bingjiao smashed Sayaka Takahashi 21-9, 21-18, giving China a 2-1 lead.
“I saw how Chen and Jia played. I was so touched and motivated,” said He. “I played better and better as we went further in the tournament. I fought 100 per cent in the final. Usually, I don’t shout or cry on the court, but today I cannot hide my emotions.
“My coach told me to trust myself that I’m the best singles player, and I believe I’m also the luckiest one because I have the best teammates in the world,” said the 24-year-old.
Huang Dongping and Li Wenmei sealed the victory for China by edging Misaki Matsutomo and Nami Matsuyama 24-22, 23-21 in the deciding match.
Competing in her first-ever Uber Cup, Li was excited to claim the crucial win.
“When we were falling behind, or at the match point, I was not nervous at all,” said the 21-year-old. “I played more than 100 per cent of myself and I was surprised that I was able to deliver so many super shots.”
Having won the Olympic mixed doubles gold, the Sudirman Cup and now the Uber Cup, Huang felt very grateful and honoured.
“No champions come in an easy way. It proves that we kept good training when there were no games during the pandemic,” said Huang. “It’s been many years since I played women’s doubles last time, but as partners, we never let each other down.”