Top Asian Countries Fight for the Uber Cup
The 2021 Uber Cup competition has begun again. It can be said that only three countries have the potential to bring home the championship title from the women's team event, and all are Asian: they are Japan, as the defending champion, China, the holder of the most titles (14), and Korea, semifinalist and 2010 champion.
Japan deserves to be put at the forefront because they have a strong lineup in the singles category. The world's 5th ranked player Akane Yamaguchi is on fire. This was proven when she defeated the 2020 Olympic gold medalist from China, Chen Yu Fei in the 2021 Sudirman Cup final, which was also the only point for Japan when they lost to China 1-3. Other women's singles players include Sayaka Takahashi (15th) and Aya Ohori (20th). Japan also registered Nozomi Okuhara, but reports say that the world number three is injured.
Injury has made world #1 doubles, Sayaka Hirota/Yuki Fukushima to be unable to be part of the competition. This makes Japan's composition of players not as strong as when they won the Uber Cup in 2018. In the preliminary round, they are in Group A with Indonesia, Germany, and France.
The power that has the potential to replace Japan's position on the championship ladder is Korea that has an ideal squad in singles and doubles. In singles, they rely on 19 years old An Seyoung (8th), Kim Gaeun (16th), and Jeon Jui. In the women's doubles, they have 2 doubles from the world's top 10, Lee Sohee/Shin Seungchan (5th) and Kim Soyeong/Kong Heeyong (6th).
Another country that can challenge the title is China. The success of winning the Sudirman Cup with the women's singles and women's doubles is an encouragement for the Uber Cup. Chen Yu Fei, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medalist who is also ranked 2nd in the world, will lead in the singles category alongside He Bing Jiao, world number 9, and world number 18 Wang Zhi Yi.
It is also possible that additional points in the doubles will come from the Tokyo 2020 silver-winning pair Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan, who also was integral to their 2021 Sudirman Cup win. They also have the world number 15 doubles pair Li Wen Mei/Zheng Yu as the second pair.
One country to watch out for is Thailand.Their success in reaching the final in 2018 made them a country not to be underestimated. The ingenuity of Rexy Mainaky, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics men's doubles gold winner who coaches team Thailand, could make Thailand a surprise.