China lose to South Korea in thrilling Uber Cup final

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Members of team China attend the awarding ceremony after the final match between China and South Korea at Uber Cup badminton tournament in Bangkok, Thailand, May 14, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

South Korea defeated China 3-2 in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Uber Cup Final at Impact Arena in Bangkok on Saturday to win the championship of the top women's badminton tournament.

This is the second Uber Cup title for South Korea after their first victory in 2010 in Kuala Lumpur.

South Korea won the first two doubles matches, while China won the first two singles games, making the last singles match between Wang Zhiyi and Sim Yu-jin the title-decider. In the end, Sim beat Wang 28-26, 18-21 and 21-8 to bring home the trophy for South Korea.

World's No. 3 Chen Yufei won the first match for China after beating An Se-young 17-21, 21-15 and 22-20. Game 1 was a struggle for Chen as she wasted a seven-point lead (11-4) to lose that game. An's slow but resilient moves made Chen very uncomfortable. Though she won the second game, her strength was running out when Game 3 began.

As a result, Chen was trailing in most of the time in this game. However, An grew exhausted soon in no small part because of the powerful performance of her opponent. Both used a medical timeout during this game to gain some momentum. In the end, Chen saved three match points and won the 91-minute match for China.

In the second match, Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan lost to Lee So-hee and Shin Seung-chan 21-12, 18-21 and 18-21. The Chinese pair secured an easy win in the first game, but lost their momentum after Game 2 started. Meanwhile, Lee and Shin grew more aggressive as the match went on. Having rallied to win two games in a row, they tied 1-1 for South Korea.

Members of team South Korea attend the awarding ceremony after the final match between China and South Korea at Uber Cup badminton tournament in Bangkok, Thailand, May 14, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

The lost second match put great pressure on He Bingjiao in the second singles contest, but He beat both the pressure and Kim Ga-eun 21-12 and 21-13. He didn't give Kim Ga-eun any chance to hijack the pace of the game. Instead, she overpowered her opponent from the beginning. Her fast movement and pressing attacks were simply too much for the opponent to resist at all.

After 43 minutes, He put China in the leading position 2-1 again with authority.

South Korea tied the score 2-2 after Kim Hye-jeong and Kong Hee-yong beat Huang Dongping and Li Wenmei 22-20 and 21-17 in the second doubles match. It hasn't been long since Huang and Li joined hands and there was obvious disconnection and incoordination between the two.

By contrast, Kim Hye-jeong and Kong are more familiar with each other and more confident. They were in control of the match from the beginning and lead all the time. Huang and Li worked hard and cut the deficit to a chasable level several times, but the South Korean pair managed to grasp both game points in a solid way.

Then came the fifth match between Wang and Sim. Both are fast players, making the final game very explosive. Li was more powerful and aggressive but Sim had better reading of the game. The score reached draw multiple times in Game 1. Having saved seven game points, Wang lost this game.

The uphill battle at the end of Game 1 consumed Sim more than it exhausted Wang, who also studied Sim's plays carefully to respond more accurately in the following rounds. Having established an early lead of 11-5, Wang stood up against Sim's continuous rally at the end of Game 2 to tie the match 1-1.

Game 3 was as well related to skills as to willpower and experience. The first two games enabled Sim to understand Wang's plays well enough to be one step ahead of her all the time. She soon achieved an 11-1 lead. Wang could hardly make decent resistance as the game went on. Her rally stopped at 21-8 in the end, which cost China the 16th Uber Cup title.

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