Monday, May 26, 2014

Japan Shatter Malaysia's Hopes Of Bringing Back Thomas Cup

NEW DELHI, May 25 (Bernama) -- Malaysia's hopes of bringing home the Thomas Cup after a 22-year wait were shattered when Japan edged Malaysia 3-2 in the final at the Siri Fort Indoor Stadium here Sunday.

This is the first time Japan entered the final of the prestigious badminton tournament.

Datuk Lee Chong Wei, the world number one men's singles player, thrashed his opponent Kenichi Tago 21-12, 12-16 in the opening match to put Malaysia ahead.

Malaysia's first doubles, Tan Boon Heong/Hoon Thien How, however, lost to Kenichi Hayakama/Hiroyuki Endo 21-12, 17-21, 19-21 bringing the tie to 1-1.

Second singles Chong Wei Feng was brushed aside by Kento Momota 21-15,21-17 giving Japan the lead.

Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong came to the rescue when they won against Keigo Sonoda/Takeshi Kamura 19-21, 21-17, 21-12 causing the tie to be decided by the last singles.

Liew Daren put up a tremendous fight against Takuma Ueda in the decider but went down in 12-21, 21-18, 17-21.

Chong Wei said winning the first point for the team and country was important.

"My Second set was a tough. He (Tago) was leading 15-10. I didn't give up and chased him point by point until I was leading at 17-15 and then went all the way.

"This is my first Thomas Cup final and being the first singles, I wanted to win the first point so that there will be less pressure on the first doubles and second singles," he told reporters afterwards.

A disappointed Wei Feng, who had won all his previous matches in the tournament, it was a "pressure-cooker" atmosphere.

"I was not able to play at my own pace today. He was able to break my game play from the beginning and my defence also slipped . In terms of tacts, I lost," he said.

Malaysia last won the Thomas Cup in 1992 when they were the hosts, winning 3-2 against Indonesia in the final.

Malaysia last reached the final in 2002 in Guangzhou, China but lost 2-3 to Indonesia.

Before tonight, only three countries have laid their hands on the Thomas Cup - Malaysia, Indonesia and China. Malaysia have won the crown five times including thrice from 1949-1955.

Malaysia also boast of eight runner-up finishes.

by M. Saraswathi

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