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Olympics-Badminton-Japan's winning streak ends, China still unbeaten

·2-min read

By Richa Naidu

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese shuttlers had won 15 straight matches at the Tokyo Games but that incredible streak came to a halt on Tuesday with losses in both men's and women's doubles, leaving badminton superpower China as the only nation yet to taste defeat.

Japan's Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda were overwhelmed by towering Chinese duo Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen, who both stand over 1.90m tall and rained down well-angled smashes to win 21-14 21-16 in just 38 minutes.

"It was the hardest game for us in the group phase so far," said Liu, who dropped to his knees and let out a roar when he scored the winning point.

China has long been the dominant force at the Games, winning 41 medals since badminton became an Olympic sport in 1992 -- more than double the combined tally of Indonesia and South Korea, the second and third most successful countries.

But the Chinese team did not have the best of things in Rio, grabbing only two gold medals and a bronze for their lowest haul at an Olympics for 20 years.

With 13 players in the top five across all categories, Japan is expected to give China a tough time in Tokyo but they suffered another setback in women's doubles when world number one pair Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota lost 24-22 13-21 21-8 to Indonesia's Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu.

Hirota, whose injured knee was heavily bound, said her movement was "limited" but that she was doing her best. Polii said she could feel the difference in Hirota's game.

In another upset, the world's number one men's doubles team of Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon from Indonesia lost to third ranked Taiwanese duo Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin 21-18 15-21 21-17.

"They played very well because they really need to win this match to pass the group stage," Gideon said. "Their style is fast and they didn't make mistakes."

The Chinese women's doubles team of Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan ended the session defeated South Korean pair Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-yong to maintain the country's unbeaten record.

(Reporting by Richa Naidu; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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