Japan won the Uber Cup on Saturday, defeating hosts Thailand 3-0 in the final of the prestigious women’s team badminton championships.
World No 2 Akane Yamaguchi got Japan off to a flyer, beating former world champion Ratchanok Intanon 21-15, 21-19 in the first singles match, with a mix of deft touches at the net and controlled power shots.
Thai star Ratchanok blamed a loss of concentration after bickering with the umpire for her straight-games loss to Yamaguchi, as Japan drew first blood.
Ratchanok, ranked two places behind her and who is known to adoring Thais fans as “Nong May”, seemed to lose some focus in the second game after arguing with the umpire after he ruled that her appeal for a review of a line call was too late.
“[Yamaguchi] concentrated more than me,” she told reporters. “I did not feel very good [after] I had a fight with umpire... because he did not believe me [over the review].
“I’m sad, I wanted to get the first point for my team.”
World No 2 doubles pair Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota picked up the second point, before Nozomi Okuhara sealed the win, defeating Nitchaon Jindapol 21-12, 21-9.
This was Japan’s sixth Uber Cup title overall but the first one since winning it at home in Tokyo in 1981. On Sunday, Japan will look to make it a clean sweep in Bangkok when their men play China for the Thomas Cup.
Thailand had upset 14-time champions China 3-2 in the semi-finals on Friday, whereas Japan beat South Korea 3-1.
With inputs from AFP