Badminton Life

Japan Beat Malaysia 3-2 To Top Group B

KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 (Bernama) -- Despite an easy quarter-final berth, Malaysia failed to top Group B after losing 2-3 to Japan to conclude the group stage of the Thomas Cup badminton tournament at Putra Stadium, here Tuesday.

Malaysia, the third seed, lost two singles matches and a doubles against Japan, seeded sixth in the tournament.

Although both teams had confirmed their quarter-final berths earlier after the Badminton World Federation (BWF) awarded 5-0 wins for Malaysia and Japan due to Nigeria's absence, the match was important to decide the table topper.

The team which lead each group, China (Group A), Japan (B), Denmark (Group C) and Indonesia (Group D) will not face each other in the quarter-finals, thus they will have an easy way to the semi-finals.

Datuk Lee Chong Wei, the world number one men's singles, justified his seeding, easily taming Japanese rising star Kenichi Tago 21-12, 21-13 in 37 minutes.

Tuesday's victory widened Chong Wei's head-to-head record against the Japanese to 4:0 since beating Tago, world number 14, in the final of the All England championships in March.

"Today's was not my good performance but as the Japanese still played his old game, it was easy to predict.

"He showed better performance when we last met in the All England final," said Chong Wei.

World number one men's duo, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong beat world number 13, the combination of Noriyasu Hirata-Hirokatsu Hashimoto, 21-13, 21-17 in 27 minutes.

Koo said the first set was easy but in the second set, their opponents gave a little more resistance when he and Tan tried to make daring shots.

"But we managed to control and play our normal game, and won the set," he said.

The Japanese team led by their chief coach from South Korea, Park Joo Bong, managed to steal a match after world number 40, Sho Sasaki defeated seasoned campaigner Wong Choong Hann, 21-17, 21-18 in 44 minutes.

Choong Hann, playing in his seventh Thomas Cup since 1998 in Hong Kong, made too many unforced errors, either sending the bird off the baseline or caught by his opponent's drop shots.

"I was too cautious with my game and just followed my opponent's pace. Since this was my first game, I made too many unforced errors," he said.

Malaysia's second doubles, Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif, put up a dismal performance, losing out easily to Kenichi Hayakawa-Kenta Kazuno 15-21, 12-21 in 27 minutes.

Their loss caused an uproar from the spectators who booed them.

As Malaysia and Japan tied 2-2, the country's third singles Mohd Hafiz Hashim failed to deliver the much-needed victory when he bowed out to Shoji Sato 10-21, 21-14, 18-21 in 102 minutes.

Hafiz, however, showed good fighting spirit and was applauded by the Malaysian spectators.

In the Group D match, European dark horse, Denmark topped the table, beating Germany 4-1.

Source from BERNAMA

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