Eyes on China and Japan in badminton's Sudirman Cup - dailyOnews



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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Eyes on China and Japan in badminton's Sudirman Cup

BEIJING, May 1 (Xinhua) China and Japan represent the two strongest teams contending for badminton's 2019 BWF Sudirman Cup in Nanning, China. There are high expectations for the favorites for a variety of different reasons.
The hosts, seeded second and placed in Group 1D, will compete against India and Malaysia. Though there may be a few chinks in their armor, China's determination to regain the trophy in front of an expectant home crowd should not be underestimated.
The last time China hosted a team event was the BWF Thomas & Uber Cup in 2016, where they crashed out in the quarterfinals despite counting several world and Olympic champions among the team.
After the 2016 Rio Olympics, China has been rebuilding the team. The once unstoppable women's singles and women's doubles squads both experienced a post-Rio slump. Yet in recent days, both categories have enjoyed something of a resurgence, with Chen Yufei and Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan's taking victory at the Yonex All England.
"It hurt a bit when we lost the last Sudirman Cup final," admitted Zhang Jun, China's head coach. "But it was also an opportunity, since our young players received invaluable experience and learned many lessons during that event. After our loss we focused on our mixed doubles, and that's why our current mixed doubles pair is doing well."
Top seeds Japan are placed in Group 1A together with Thailand and Russia, and are under pressure to perform well ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Japanese are aware that this year marks their best shot at the title, since they have top players in all five categories. They now have to pray for their seemingly vulnerable women's doubles pairs as the Sudirman Cup draws near, and hope that the ankle injury Arisa Higashino suffered at the Badminton Asia Championships last week isn't serious.
"Our next goal is the Sudirman Cup, we've never won it," said Japanese head coach Park Joo Bong. "Over the last year we've had good results. The Nippon Badminton Association also believes it's a new challenge. We have a good chance and will try to be the champions, but it will never be easy, because China will be on home ground."
Other teams that may trouble China and Japan include Indonesia, Chinese Taipei and India, with Indonesia especially strong in men's singles, men's doubles and women's doubles.

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