Highlights of the Thomas-Uber Cup Finals

The Thomas and Uber Cup Finals featured an exciting nine days of breathtaking action in Chengdu.

While the hosts reigned supreme by capturing both the Thomas and Uber Cup titles to underline their rule in team events, there were some surprises from the underdogs.

Terrific Taiwan

Taiwan captured their first ever bronze medal after toppling second seeds Denmark 3-1 in the quarter-finals. The 34-year-old Chou Tien-chen (pic) inspired his team with a hard-fought 21-19, 14-21, 21-19 win over world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen in the first singles. Men’s doubles pairs Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin and Lee Jhe-huei-Yang Po-hsuan delivered the other two points. Taiwan had lost 0-5 to Japan in their last group match but emerged as the biggest surprise package.

Girl power

Indonesia made it into their first final in 16 years thanks to huge efforts by their young stars Ester Nurumi, 19 (pic) and Komang Ayu, 21. Ester stunned Thailand’s world No. 16 Supanida Katethong to give her team the winning point in the last eight. She went on to upset South Korea’s Kim Ga-ram in the semi-finals before Komang delivered the winning point against Kim Min-sun. Ester nearly pulled off another upset against China’s He Bingjiao in the final before her team lost 0-3 to China but Indonesia can look forward to a bright future with their young brigade of fighters.

Strategy backfired

Japan were the favourites against a weakened Malaysia in the quarter-finals but a move to field Kenta Nishimoto (pic) instead of Kodai Naraoka in the first singles, went all wrong. Malaysia without Ng Tze Yong, went on to beat Japan 3-1, thanks to wins by Lee Zii Jia against Nishimoto, world No. 37 Leong Jun Hao’s cool demolition of Koki Watanabe and doubles pair Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani’s heroics of beating Akira Koga-Taichi Saito for the winning point and taking Malaysia to their first semis in eight years.

Goodbye Momota

Two-time world champion Kento Momota (pic) had hoped to bid goodbye to his colourful badminton career by playing in the Thomas Cup Finals but he did not get the chance to help his team. He waited anxiously to play against Justin Hoh of Malaysia in the quarter-finals but the tie ended before that in favour of Malaysia. Head coach Park Joo-bong was seen comforting Momota as it would have been a great farewell if he had won the tie for Japan. A day later, he was given a fitting tribute by the Badminton World Federation in a special press conference.

Mean machines

Indonesia’s 2022 All-England champions Shohibul Fikri-Bagas Maulana (pic) staved off an astonishing fightback from India’s Hangzhou Asian Games gold medallists Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty to narrowly come out on top 24-22, 22-24, 21-19 in a thrilling first doubles match in the group stage. The Indians were down 14-20 down to beat the Indonesians in the second game and nearly repeated the trick in the decider at 15-20 before losing 19-20. It was a world-class doubles battle. Indonesia won the tie 4-1 and avenged their 0-3 defeat to India in the 2022 final.

Hosts power

China proved their dominance by reclaiming both the Thomas and Uber Cup titles on home soil after beating Indonesia 3-1 and 3-0 in the finals respectively. The men lifted their 11th Cup while the ladies were crowned for the 16th time - records that will be difficult to match or surpassed by the other teams.

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