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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Thomas cup 2014-post mortem Finals - Japan 3 Malaysia 2

The Thomas cup finals 2014 is one of the most exciting and nail-biting badminton tournament in recent history.

Held in New Delhi, this is neutral ground for the two opponents.

The game between Malaysia and Japan was very competitive, stretching the teams to the limit.

With the tie at 2-2, the decider fell to the 3rd men's singles, pitting Darren Liew (ranked 66th) vs. Takuma Ueda (ranked 25th).

Takuma played very calmly with minimal errors.
Takuma took the 1st game easily (21-12) as Darren committed many errors by playing passively.

Darren finally woke up in the 2nd game with a display of very good jumpsmashes which he used to win in 2012 France Open finals.

Takuma had no answer to Darren's attacking play and crosscourt net shots, with Darren taking the 2nd set 21-18.

The decider game was like a game of chess, each player played very cautiously. 

Takuma played a safe game and prevented Darren from setting up his deadly jumpsmashes.

Darren Liew possessed a very good attacking play and was overcame by his numerous unforced errors.

At a crucial point with Takuma leading 17-15, Darren allowed a high lift to land at the baseline, thinking it was out.

This unforced error allowed Takuma to lead 18-15. 
Above is the eagle eye replay of a misjudge by Darren Liew, where Takuma's lift landed on Darren's baseline giving the Japanese 18-15. 

The difference between Takuma and Darren, is the number of unforced errors.

The 1st singles was between Lee Chong Wei and Kenichi Tago, which saw the Malaysian taking the game easily in straight sets, giving Malaysia the lead 1-0.

The 1st doubles was a critical game. The Japanese top doubles pair of Endo and Hayakawa won 12-21, 21-17 and 21-19. 

The scratch pair of Tan Boon Heong and Hoon Thien How put out a tough fight, stretching the game to rubber set. 

The energy sapping 3rd set maybe a bridge too far for the Malaysian pair especially given the high BMI of Hoon Thien How, which affects endurance.

The third tie was 2nd singles between rising star Kento Momota vs Chong Wei Feng. 

Momota easily took the game 21-15, 21-17, giving Japan a 2-1 lead.

The 2nd doubles was perhaps the most nail biting, with Japan poised to eliminate Malaysia. 

Japanese supporters celebrating.

The Japanese took the 1st set 21-19, putting enormous pressure on the scratch pair of Tan Wee Kiong & Goh V Shem.

The Malaysians held their nerve and won the second set 21-17 giving Malaysia a brief lifeline. 

The 3rd set, the Japanese caved in due to perhaps to excitement of finishing off the Malaysians quickly. 

The attacking play by Goh V Shem was pretty deadly with Tan Wee Kiong controlling the net.

The Japanese tried to prevent the Malaysian's attacking play by playing drive or flat shots, but the Japanese committed errors owing to their tactic of not lifting with little margin of the shuttle clearing the net chord, hitting the flat shots into the net instead.

The victory by the 2nd Malaysian doubles set up perhaps one of the best Thomas cup ever.

The margin of victory by Japan was very small, winning by 21-17 in the rubber game of the 5th tie.
Japanese team members celebrating the win.

But at the end of the Day, Japan became the fourth country to ever won the Thomas cup. 

おめでとう日本 。

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