THOMAS CUP Final – Li/Liu put China back on top

By: Esme
Date: 28 May, 2018
Image Courtesy: BWF

China wins its first Thomas Cup in 6 years as LI Junhui and Liu Yuchen win a second doubles. More deets below :

China stands at rank 1 in world team ranking for Badminton. Ever since it’s advent into the game, it has been super delivering and consistent. In 2004, China took both the Thomas and Uber Cups for the first time since 1990, the Badminton world thought it is going to be consistent in the coming years too.

In the later years, China had its players in the top 5 of the ranking tables in both men’s and women’s singles. And in another four years, that is by 2008, they had executed another string of 3 tandem Thomas and Uber Cup titles, along with their accomplishments in the Asian Games, which once again not only cracked the attention of the world but also helped its players to slide to better ranks.


China was not only winning but the kind of skill it was showing during that period was phenomenal. And 2010 Uber cup’s loss was a shocker, but China, got back into the race by winning both the Thomas and Uber Cup finals in 2012, as well as in the next two Sudirman finals, it looked like it was back to business as usual.

Kento Momota  was one of the main reasons of the 2014 victory. He missed out on the 2016 edition but was back for the 2018.In all his glory, Momota was undefeated this week in Bangkok. He also won over Chen Long to get the Asian Championship title just a few weeks ago.


In 2014, Japan’s last trip to the finals had the then 19-year-old Momota who had played 2nd singles.  Just before this event, he had just moved high enough on the world rankings to rate as Japan’s first singles player.

The next matches looked like they were plotted on Japan’s part. Against world #3 Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan they chose to send German Open champions Takuto Inoue and Yuki Kaneko, who won over the World Champions in their previous encounter, at last autumn’s Hong Kong Open.  This was the reverse of the first singles match, as Liu and Zhang led almost from start to finish and gave no quarter to the improving, but less experienced Japanese pair.

At second singles, Japan chose Kenta Nishimoto. Although practically a veteran himself, Nishimoto could only break into the world’s top 30 last year. But he has been into two Superseries finals and has proved that he could rise to the occasion. This makes him count in as a dangerous opponent even for the reigning All England Champion.

Shi Yuqi (pictured above) was rough through the first game but in the second, Nishimoto kept producing some incredible rallies to push in the young Chinese star in the last stages.  After allowing the underdog to tie it at 17-all, however, Shi Yuqi took back control and scored last 4 points to put China in the lead.


Japan’s doubles strategy was to send in two young, in- form talents as the 2nd doubles pair. Yuta Watanabe and Keigo Sonoda formed the second pair who are now ranked #6 on the world table. Watanabe being the newly crowned All-England mixed doubles champion also won over with veteran Hiroyuki Endo in Bangkok. This young pair had as much as success as any other on the team with the extremely strong Chinese pair

It’s amazing how Keigo Sonoda and Watanbe played defense and took the first game. The second went to China making the match all the more interesting. The third set of game which was also the decider saw Watanabe producing some spectacular deceptive plays while Liu Yuchen repeatedly sent the shuttle well long of the back line after the end change.  As Sonoda mis-hit a loose shuttle at the net and the Japanese were unable to get back in control.  Li and Liu took the last four points in succession to clinch the Thomas Cup for China.


Thomas Cup final result: China 3, Japan 1

MS1:  Chen Long (CHN) lost to Kento Momota (JPN)  9-21 18-21

MD1:  Liu Cheng / Zhang Nan (CHN) beat Takuto Inoue / Yuki Kaneko (JPN)  21-10 21-18

MS2:  Shi Yuqi (CHN) beat Kenta Nishimoto (JPN)  21-12 21-17

MD2:  Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (CHN) beat Keigo Sonoda / Yuta Watanabe (JPN)  17-21 21-19 22-20

MS3:  Lin Dan (CHN) vs. Kanta Tsuneyama (JPN)  [not played]

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