Zheng Siwei (left) and Huang Yaqiong of China celebrate after the mixed doubles match against Seo Seung-jae and Chae Yu-jung of South Korea during the final match at the BWF Sudirman Cup in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on Sunday. (Photo by Wei Xiaohao/China Daily)
The Chinese badminton team won the 2023 BWF Sudirman Cup after beating South Korea 3-0 in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on Sunday. It is the third consecutive time and the 13th time in total that Team China topped the podium at the world mixed team championships, making China the most successful nation in the tournament's history.
World No 1 mixed doubles pair Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong won Team China the first point at the final after beating Seo Seungjae and Chae Yu-jung of South Korea 18-21, 22-20 and 21-8. Chinese men's singles ace Shi Yuqi won the second point by beating Lee Yun-gyu 21-13, 21-17. Olympic champion Chen Yufei concluded the final after beating An Se-young 21-16, 22-20.
As a test of all-around strength of a team, each tie in the Sudirman Cup consists of five matches — men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles. The tournament takes place every two years, and the Suzhou event was its 18th edition.
"We prepared well for the finals, and were very determined on the court. We made some mistakes, but adjusted quickly. After winning the first match, I'm very relaxed now. We fulfilled our responsibility," said Chinese mixed doubles player Zheng.
Team China started its Sudirman Cup journey in Suzhou with a perfect group stage performance, beating Egypt, Singapore and Denmark all 5-0. As the leader of Group A, Team China defeated their first knockout stage rival Indonesia 3-0 on Friday.
The Chinese squad faced the toughest test on Saturday, when it went through a seven-hour semifinal clash to beat Japan 3-2 after an epic comeback.
"On Saturday, the team fought really hard to win the semifinal matches. Today, we told ourselves that we need to believe in teamwork and repeat that performance," said Chinese mixed doubles player Huang.
Men's singles player Shi played a vital role in helping Team China bask in glory during the semifinal and final matches over the weekend, but he credited their victory to team efforts.
"My strategy was to ease the burden on my teammates. I knew if I won the second point, my teammates would be under less pressure and would perform better," he said.
"Saturday's matches were tough. Having made it to the finals despite that, I believe we all shared the same goal — winning. Personally, I was under less pressure during the final compared with the semifinal matches. We always need to believe in ourselves and do our best," Shi added.
Team China's victory made headlines in mainstream media and generated a series of trending topics on social media as well. The hashtag "Team China wins Sudirman Cup third consecutive time" was viewed over 40 million times within an hour after Sunday's victory.
"It was really not easy for Team China to win. It (the tournament) is not just about skills or tactics. It is more like a mind game. We need to always display our (fighting) spirit," said Chinese badminton icon Cai Yun, a 2012 London Olympics gold medalist who was in Suzhou to watch all the action live.