Japan women beat finalists Thailand 3-0 to win the Uber Cup in Bangkok on Saturday and end their 37-year long wait for the title. Thailand, who had entered the finals for the first time after shock win against China in the semifinals, went down to the Japanese team of ranked players in both singles and doubles.
Ranked two in world singles, Akane Yamaguchi began Japan’s title got off to a flying start as she beat World No. four Ratchanok Intanon 21-15, 21-19. Doubles pair Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota gave Japan their second point, winning the tie 21-18, 21-12. Nozomi Okuhara spelled victory for her side as she made light work of Nitchaon Jindapol, who looked visibly tired, beating her by 21-12, 21-9.
Celebrating the victory, Okuhara said after the match, “Thirty-seven years ago Japan was very strong… we are happy to make history again.”
The last time Japan clinched the Uber Cup title was back in 1981 and it comes as a major boost ahead of Tokyo Olympics in 2020. “I was worried about the atmosphere, but the team took the pressure and were hungry to win,” said Japan coach Park Joo-Bong.
Thailand coach Rexy Mainaky praised his ‘world-class’ players and said, “We are strong contenders to win gold. Skillwise our players are world-class, but to go to the next level we have to do more. We will come back on this and evaluate what we need to add.”
Japan have a chance of double glory as they face China in Thomas Cup final on Sunday.