Japan came second in the Thomas Cup men’s team badminton championship Sunday, losing 3-1 to powerhouse China in the final.
Japan, aiming to win the tournament for the first time since 2014, got off to a good start after former world No. 2 Kento Momota beat Rio de Janeiro Olympic gold medalist Chen Long 21-9, 21-18.
The 12th-ranked Momota won his second straight match against the fifth-ranked Chinese despite losing all four matches in 2014 and 2015. Momota missed a spot at the 2016 Rio Games after receiving a ban for illegal gambling.
Japan, however, failed to win again. Takuto Inoue and Yuki Kaneko lost 21-10, 21-18 to world doubles champions Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan. Shi Yuqi beat Kenta Nishimoto 21-12, 21-17 to put the Chinese ahead.
In the fourth rubber, Keigo Sonoda and Yuta Watanabe suffered a 17-21, 21-19, 22-20 defeat to Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen. After Li and Liu tied the third game 18-18, Japan scored two points to bring up match point, but the Chinese pair won four straight points to seal the match in 1 hour, 10 minutes and clinch the championship.