# Samurais whip Korea 3-0 in final of Asian Mixed Team Championships
# Beaten semi-finalists China and Thailand take bronze
By Rizal Abdullah
It was a fairy tale ending for giant killers Japan in the inaugural Robot Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships – as they became the first holder of Tong Yun Kai Cup with a 3-0 win over South Korea in the final on Sunday.
Badminton fans in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam saw the best of badminton in the week-long tournament that attracted 13 teams.
The final was a thriller all the way – just like the semi-finals – which saw Japan pulling off the biggest upset with a 3-1 win over top seeds and favourites China while the Koreans knocked out Thailand by a similar margin.
In the final Japan rode on their upset win over the mighty Chinese and the champions showed more hunger against the Koreans.
Dubbed as the rising badminton power in the region, the Japanese who have two foreign coaches – Korea’s Park Joo Bong and Indonesia’s Rionny Mainaky in their setup – have depth in every department to win mixed team events.
“We did not expect to be champions with the likes of China and Korea who came with strong teams,” said Joo Bong after the final.
“This win motivate us for the Sudirman Cup (in Gold Coast, Melbourne) in May. We will train harder for the Sudirman Cup.”
The Japanese tsunami saw Japan clinch the title by winning the opening men’s doubles followed by wins in the women’s and men’s doubles.- all in straight sets.
Japan’s No 1 men’s doubles pair Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda started the rout with a 21-15, 21-16 win over Kim Gi-jung-Yoo Yeon-seong in 43 minutes.
The show stealer was the women’s singles match between Akane Yamaguchi and her Korean opponent Sung Ji-hyun – a match which had the crowd on their feet during the 54 minutes they were on court.
In the end the day belonged Yamaguchi who subdued Korean No 1 Sung Ji-hyun with a 22-20, 23-21 win for Japan’s second point. Yamaguchi, the world No 6, did not buckle under pressure even when her opponent led in both sets.
Kenta Nishimoto, the player who swung the match in Japan’s favour in the semi-finals against China, once again showed that he will be a player to watch in the world of badminton when he tamed Jeon Hyeok Jin 21-13, 21-16 for the winning point.
There were celebrations in the Japanese camp joined by the huge Japanese community that turned up with their counterparts from Korea to cheer and support their respective teams.
The trophy was presented by Tong Yun Kai himself who was accompanied by Badminton Asia president Anton Aditya Subowo.
Beaten semi-finalists China and Thailand were awarded the bronze medals.
JAPAN 3 KOREA 0
MS: Kenta Nishimoto beat Jeon Hyeok-jin 21-13, 21-16
WS: Akane Yamaguchi beat Sung Ji-hyun 22-20, 23-21
MD: Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda beat Kim Gi-jung-Yoo Yeon-seong