Reigning champion China secures group top at Thomas Cup

21:33, May 11, 2010      

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The Chinese shuttlers held back the challenges from the South Korean team to secure the top position of Group A at the Thomas CupTuesday with an anticipated 4-1 win.

The Olympic and world champion Lin Dan opened the victory for the reigning champion as he edged out Park Sung Hwan 21-18, 25-23 in the first singles match, followed by the 2006 world champion double Cai Yun/Fu Haifeng, who upset South Korea's top doubles player Jung Jae Sung and his new partner Shin Baek Cheol in 26 minutes, 21-11, 21-12.

Lin, ranked second in the world, was almost pushed to a decisive set when Park fought back from trailing 17-11 to lead by 20-18. However, the Chinese star shuttler saved three set points before he locked the game 25-23.

"I was ready to play a third set, but I became more focused when I was down," said Lin. "It was a tough match, but was good practice for the upcoming elimination stage."

Chen Jin, the world's third-ranked singles, secured the victory and a top four seeded position in the quarter-finals for China with a straight win against South Korea's youngster Shon Wan Ho.

The 2010 Swiss Super Series champion Yoo Yeon Seong/Ko Sung Hyun marked the only win for the South Korean side as they beat China's Guo Zhendong/Xu Chen in a close match, 21-19, 19-21, 21-19.

China's Bao Chunlai then added another victory for China with a revenge on Lee Hyun Il 21-18, 21-15. The former No. 1 South Korean stopped Bao from making into the semifinals at the Beijing Olympics before he retired from the national team for one and a half years.

"I think he is as strong as before in technique and experience, but not in physical condition," said Bao.

However, Lee's coach Li Mao, a former Chinese national coach, said his South Korean student was not pushing hard at all in this match.

According to Li Mao, Lee was just back in the national squad before the Thomas Cup for around 20 days, and he was told only to warm up and feel the court in his first international competition after finishing a fourth place at the Beijing Olympics.



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