October 16, 2019
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China pummel Japan in final of Sudirman Cup badminton tourney

Nanning, China, May 26 (efe-epa).- China routed Japan three matches to none here Sunday in an anti-climactic final of the Sudirman Cup, the world mixed-team badminton championship.

The Chinese men's doubles duo of Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen kicked off this much-anticipated battle of tournament co-favorites in dominant fashion with a comprehensive 21-18, 21-10 victory over Yuta Watanabe and Hiroyuki Endo.

The Japanese duo were inexplicably content to cede the initiative in the rallies and defend the steep smashes of the 1.95-meter (6-foot-5) Li and 1.93-meter Liu.

The turning point came at 18-18 in the first game, when the reigning world champions reeled off three straight points on a pair of unreturnable shots and an error by Endo to take the opener.

The third-ranked Li and Liu then won a much more lopsided second game in which the Japanese had no answer for the Chinese team's height and aggressive smashing.

The second match was a pivotal women's singles contest pitting Japanese world No. 4 Akane Yamaguchi against third-ranked Chen Yufei of China.

Both players showed off their phenomenal defensive skills throughout the grueling one-hour, 21-minute contest, but Chen's greater reach and slightly superior attacking game gave her the edge down the stretch of her 17-21, 21-16, 21-17 win.

In the third match, Japanese world No. 1 Kento Momota started strong and frustrated second-ranked Shi Yuqi with his quickness, defense and percentage play in racing out to a 20-11 lead.

But although Momota managed to wrap up the first game, the match started to turn around dramatically at that juncture.

Shi stunned the reigning men's singles world champion - and dominant player of the last 13 months - by winning 40 of 50 points in narrowing the gap at the end of the first game, trouncing Momota in the second game and taking a 15-4 lead in the decider.

He ended up winning 15-21, 21-5, 21-11 in what was arguably the most shocking result of the entire tournament.

Momota had no answer for Shi's powerful and precise smashes and all-around athleticism, size, touch and skill, playing too conservatively against a player who produced one of the best men's singles matches in recent memory.

After Shi struck one final down-the-line smash winner on match point, he was mobbed by his teammates on the main court at the Guangxi Sports Center in Nanning.

With their victory, China extended their record haul of Sudirman Cup titles to 11.

The Asian giant also delivered a strong statement to the rest of the badminton world with their performance throughout the week, losing just one match (in a 3-1 victory over Denmark) in five contests against opposing nations in the group and knockout phases of this biennial tournament.

China, furthermore, made amends for their disappointing 3-2 loss to South Korea in the 2017 Sudirman Cup final.

Japan, for their part, had high hopes of capturing their maiden title at this elite mixed-team event but now must go back to the drawing board after a humbling defeat at the hands of China.

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