China beat Japan 3-1 to claim Thomas Cup

Bangkok (AFP) –


China's men took home the Thomas Cup on Saturday, defeating a hard-charging Japanese team 3-1 and regaining glory after stumbling out of the biennial tournament early in 2016.

Olympic medallist and world number 5 Chen Long got the team off to a slow start in an upset loss to Japan's flashy left-hander Kento Momota 21-9, 21-18.

But China's star-heavy squad rallied, with world number 3 doubles pair Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan levelling the contest, while Shi Yuqi stayed one step ahead of Japan's Kenta Nishimoto, jumping in the air for a smash winner to reach a match point that Nishimoto then netted to give him the win 21-12, 21-17.

Clinching the third and deciding match was the world number 4 doubles duo Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen, who clawed back from a set down to eke out a nail-biting win over Keigo Sonoda and Yuta Watanabe 17-21, 21-19, 22-20.

The pressure was on for China's men after its women shuttlers were knocked out in the semis in the Uber Cup, which was held alongside the men's tournament in Bangkok.