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China Clinch Tenth Uber Cup
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Reigning champions China powered to a 3-0 victory over the Netherlands in Tokyo on Saturday to take the title of the 2006 Uber Cup badminton championships.

Led by the world top two shuttlers Zhang Ning, Xie Xingfang as well as debutant Jiang Yanjiao, powerful China won the title for the fifth straight time in the prestigious world women's team event.

"I must give thanks to the spectators here and my players and coaches," said Chinese head coach Li Yongbo. "Hopefully Chinese women's squad can keep the trophy for longer time."

Li added that the Netherlands played well today, especially in the first two singles, but China deserved the victory for better performances.

Martijn Van Dooremalen, team manager of the Netherlands, said that his team had done their best, making history by reaching the finals for the first time though failing to win one match against China.

The opening match of the Uber Cup final was a repeat of the women's singles final at 2004 Athens Olympics.

The 31-year-old Zhang Ning, world number one, took the first game by 21-18 and led at 19-16 in the second.

But Mia Audina, two-time Olympic silver medalist, charged back and took five straight points to level the tie.

In the decider, Zhang was off to a good start by leading 12-2. But resilient Mia fought back again and led at 16-15 by seizing on Zhang's unforced errors.

Zhang, however, lived up to the reputation of being world number one by restoring her lead with steady pace and accurate placements before taking the set at 21-18 to claim the victory.

"The fight has left my legs weak," said Zhang following a 64-minute grueling match.

Xie Xingfang, winner of 2004 world championships in the United States, pulled off a 21-17 and 21-18 win despite tough resistance from Judith Meulendijks, ranked 39th in the world.

China's title defense was topped off by debutant Jiang Yanjiao, ranked 15th in the world, who made light work of Rachel Van Custen 21-9 and 21-7 in just 26 minutes.

On Sunday, China will meet Denmark in the final of the Thomas cup.

(Xinhua News Agency May 6, 2006)

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