Japan captures first Thomas Cup

AFP-JIJI

Japan clinched its first-ever Thomas Cup badminton title with a thrilling 3-2 win over Malaysia in the final of the men’s premier team championships in New Delhi on Sunday.

World No. 25 Takuma Ueda overcame a spirited resistance from the 66th-ranked Daren Liew before taking the fifth and decisive match 21-12, 18-21, 21-17 at the Siri Fort complex in the Indian capital.

The Japanese, whose best performance in 12 previous Cup appearances had been a semifinal berth in 2012, ensured the sensational 3-0 rout of five-time defending champions China on Friday did not go to waste.

A visibly relieved Ueda said it was a “special feeling” to be part of his country’s maiden Cup win.

“There was pressure on me because it was a key match and there was strong Malaysian support in the crowd,” the Japanese man of the moment said.

“I did give away the advantage in the second game, but I was not really worried because I knew I would win if I did not make too many mistakes. This is a real special feeling now.”