Total BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2018
China back on top in the Thomas Cup
Favourites China overcame a nail biting end to the final and lifted the Thomas Cup once again. Japan most definitely made China sweat all the way with a great fight, resulting in scenes of relief and joy by Chinese players and coaches when the match was secured.
In recent history, China have been a dominant force in the Thomas Cup. Winning 5 in-a-row since 2004. Although, the last two Thomas Cups have gone elsewhere. With Japan winning in 2014, beating China in a shock 3-0 victory and Denmark being victorious in 2016. China were very hungry to regain the cup coming to Bangkok. And they did just that.
The opening Men’s Singles match was China’s Chen Long taking on Kento Momota of Japan. A repeat of the Asia Championships final just last month. Momota won that final, he was the hero for Japan in their 2014 Thomas Cup campaign, and he was the hero here too. Momota came out with incredible accuracy and intensity, winning the first game against the Olympic Champion 21-9. Chen Long gave it everything in the 2nd game, but it just wasn’t enough, losing 21-18, and Japan taking the initiative in the final.
A pivotal match
China needed to regain control of the tie. What better pair to turn to than experienced Men’s Doubles duo Zhang Nan and Liu Cheng. They delivered a perfect response with a solid 21-10, 21-18 win over Takuto Inoue/ Yuki Kaneko.
With the first matches cancelling each other out in terms of the scores. The second Men’s Singles became a pivotal match in determining the champion. It looked promising for Japan, as Kenta Nishimoto had defeated Shi Yuqi last year at Asia Mixed Team Championships, in their only encounter. However, Shi was in no mood to dwell on this and with a disciplined display scored a vital 2 game win, 21-12, 21-17.
Then came the interesting match-up of China’s Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen against a Japanese scratch pair of Yuta Watanabe and Keigo Sonoda. This seemed like quite the risk by the coaches, but it turned out to be a master-stroke. The Japanese pair gelled well, and the match turned into a brilliant spectacle. After two very tight games, the crowd noise escalated as there was nothing between them in the third game. Japan had two match points to make it 2-2 going into the final match. But they squandered them both, only for Li and Liu to sweep in and take the match and secure the 3-1 Thomas Cup victory, causing team mates and coaches to flood the court in celebration. They are back.
Thomas Cup final result
Kento Momota (JPN) bt Chen Long (CHN)
Zhang Nan/ Liu Cheng (CHN) bt Takuto Inoue/ Yuki Kaneko (JPN)
Shi Yuqi (CHN) bt Kenta Nishimoto (JPN)
Li Junhui/ Liu Yuchen (CHN) bt Yuta Watanabe/ Keigo Sonoda (JPN)
17-21, 21-19, 22-20
Japan surge to Uber Cup number six
The Japanese women dominated the final and won the 2018 BWF Uber Cup after a 37-year wait. They beat hosts Thailand 3-0 in very efficient style, without dropping a game. Could this be the beginning of another period of domination for Japan?
This victory was the first since Japan’s golden era between 1966 to 1981, where they achieved an impressive 5 Uber Cups and a runners-up medal in just 6 tournaments. And this 2018 squad looks mightily exciting and with youth on their side, they may yet have more Uber Cups in them in years to come.
Never in doubt
Japan stormed through the group stages, recording 5-0 wins in all three of their matches, only dropping one game in the process. They then recorded two solid 3-1 victories against Chinese Taipei (quarter-final) and South Korea (semi-final) which were never in doubt. In the final they met hosts Thailand in a packed arena of loud home support, which ended in a comfortable 3-0 win.
The Thai team have had an extremely good tournament to get this far and have done their fans proud. The highlight would be of course the emotional 3-2 semi-final victory over holders China.
Uber Cup final result
Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) bt Ratchanok Intanon (THA)
Yuki Fukishima/ Sayaka Hirota (JPN) bt Jongkolphan Kititharakul/ Puttita Supajirakul (THA)
Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) bt Nitchaon Jindapol (THA)