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China eyes Sudirman Cup title defense in Vantaa

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HELSINKI, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) — Despite the absence of several top players, China’s badminton coach Xia Xuanze told Xinhua on Saturday that the Chinese team aims to defend its Sudirman Cup title.

The 17th edition of the Sudirman Cup, originally to be staged in Suzhou, China, will take place in Vantaa, Finland from September 26 to October 3. As the defending champion, China faces Thailand, Finland and India in Group A.

The Chinese team is still regarded as the title favorite although Tokyo Olympic silver medalists Chen Long (men’s singles), Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen (men’s doubles), Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong (mixed doubles) will not show up in the tournament.

Tokyo Olympic champions Chen Yufei (women’s singles) and Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping (mixed doubles) will lead China’s assaults, along with women’s doubles silver medalists Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan.

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In men’s singles, China will rely on Shi Yuqi, Lu Guangzu and Li Shifeng, while young guns like Wang Zhiyi and Feng Yanzhe have a chance to debut in a major event at the senior level.

“We are expecting a lot of challenges from teams like Indonesia and Japan. The Japanese team did not fare well at the Tokyo Olympics, and I assume they will bounce back. Indonesia has sent top players in here. Our young players have to fight hard,” Xia said after Saturday’s training session.

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After the Tokyo Olympics, China’s shuttlers hardly had a break before competing at the Chinese National Games earlier this month. The Sudirman Cup will be a test for their energy and fitness.

China has claimed a record 11 titles in this biennial international team event. The Chinese squad will head to Aarhus, Danmark for the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup after the Vantaa competition.

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