BANGKOK – Japan’s women’s team emerged as the champion of the 2018 Uber Cup Badminton championship after thrashing host Thailand 3-0 in the final round on Saturday.
It was the sixth win for the team, ending a 37-year title drought after its last victory in 1981.
Nozomi Okuhara, who played the deciding third match, defeated Nitchaon Jindapol 21-12 and 21-9 in an undramatic battle. Okuhara, 2017 world champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, was indeed too powerful for the host shuttler, even in front of the latter’s home crowd at IMPACT Arena in Bangkok.
Japan owned Sunday’s final right from the outset as Akane Yamaguchi overpowered Ratchanok Intanon in the first match, then in the second match, doubles pairing Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota dominated Jongkolphan Kittharakul and Puttita Supajirakul.
Japan’s win wasn’t unexpected as, according to Okuhara, the team was powered by seasoned players.
Despite playing in front of the home fans who packed the venue, Ratchanok and her compatriots still failed to secure a happy ending. Nevertheless, Thailand passed a new milestone in its badminton history as it managed to reach the finals. In 2012, Thailand could only bag a bronze medal.
Thailand’s head coach Rexy Mainaky said his team still needed to make improvements in order to reach the top level.
Nevertheless, Indonesian Rexy, who previously handled the Indonesian team, lauded his team’s achievement in the cup, saying it could boost the players’ morale for the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia.
By Ramadani Saputra