England emulate France to enter quarter-finals
NEW DELHI: England’s women joined the French men as the only unseeded teams to cruise into the quarter-finals of the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup badminton team competitions on Wednesday.
A day after France entered the last eight in their maiden Thomas Cup appearance, the English women too moved up in the Uber Cup with an emphatic 4-1 win over Russia in their last league match.
A fresh draw for the knock-out rounds will be made ahead of Thursday’s quarter-finals, with 14th-ranked France and 13th-ranked England competing alongside the top seven men’s and women’s teams.
England’s third singles player Panuga Riou, who won her match, said the young squad was excited to be playing in the quarter-finals.
“We knew we had a real hard group with China, Taiwan and Russia,” she said. “Ours is a young team, so to beat both Taiwan and Russia means we have exceeded expectations.
“England finished second in group W behind defending champions China, who blanked Taiwan 5-0 to record their third straight win.
Indonesia, who won the last of their record 13 Thomas Cup titles in 2002, overcame a shock defeat for world number five Tommy Sugiarto to top group A with a 4-1 win over fellow qualifiers Thailand.
Sugiarto fell to the eighth-ranked Boonsak Ponsana 14-21, 21-13, 21-17 in the opening singles, but the Indonesians did not drop a game in the remaining four matches.
Five-time Thomas Cup winners Malaysia won group C after a 3-2 win over 2012 finalists South Korea, who also qualified ahead of Germany and hosts India.
World number one Lee Chong Wei put Malaysia ahead with a 21-17, 21-17 win over Son Wan-Ho, before Yoo Yeon-Seong and Lee Yong-Dae made it 1-1 by winning the doubles.
Chong Wei Feng gave Malaysia the lead again with a hard-fought three-game win over Lee Dong-Keun in the second singles, before Tan Wee Kiong and Goh Shem sealed the tie by winning the second doubles.
Hwang Jong-Soo reduced the margin for the Korean men with a 23-21, 21-15 victory over Goh Soon Huat in the final singles.
“This is a good win before the knock-out round,” said Lee Chong Wei. “No match is easy. We will have to play our best now.
“South Korea’s women, who were runners-up to China in the last Uber Cup edition two years ago, beat Indonesia to the top spot in group X with a 4-1 win.
Japan topped group Z with a 4-1 win over second-placed Denmark after Minatsu Mitani gave them the lead by beating Line Kjaersfeldt 21-19, 21-9 in the opening singles.
The Japanese women won the first doubles and the second singles to take an invincible 3-0 lead before the Danes narrowed the margin by winning the second doubles.
Akane Yamaguchi made it a comfortable 4-1 scoreline for Japan by beating Mia Blichfeldt in three games.
Meanwhile, Singapore ended their campaign on a winning note as the men routed Nigeria 5-0 and the women beat Australia by a similar margin, but the effort came too late to lift them into the quarter-finals.