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Flying start for Japan's women shuttlers

Japan's women shuttlers dominated Australia 5-0 to get the nation's quest for a Thomas and Uber Cup badminton double off to a flying start in Bangkok yesterday.

Women's singles world champion Nozomi Okuhara crushed Louisa Ma 21-6, 21-6 in their opening Group A encounter.

Japan are favourites for the women's Uber Cup event and showed why when doubles pair Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi then blew away Australia's Lee Yen Khoo and Ann-Louise Slee 21-3, 21-4 as the top seeds ran out comfortable winners.

The world's 16 top nations compete for the men's Thomas Cup and women's Uber Cup every two years with matches comprising three singles and two doubles.

While China's women have dominated, winning 14 times including the past three editions, Japan have emerged with a shot at taking home both trophies at this year's edition in Thailand.

Japan's men are aiming to repeat their 2014 Thomas Cup triumph but have a tough task against the likes of traditional powerhouses China and reigning champions Denmark, who became the first non-Asian winners in 2016.

Denmark boast world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen, but will be hampered by the absence of doubles star Carsten Mogensen, who is out due to sickness.

Japan are led by the former world No. 2 Kento Momota, who shocked China's Olympic gold-medallist Chen Long to win the Asia Championships last month.

Meanwhile, Indonesia, another nation with an outside chance of glory, made a great start as their men beat Canada 5-0 in Group B.

France's Ronan Labar predicted a wide-open event after his country got off the mark 4-1 against India in Group A of the men's competition. - AFP

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