WORLD champions Cuba opened their CTS Women's Super Challenge title defence with a straight-sets triumph over Japan at the Hong Kong Coliseum last night despite showing mediocre form. Cuban coach George Eugenio admitted that his charges were far from their best in their 15-3, 15-13, 15-11 victory, but he was happy with the result. 'Our girls are very tired because they have had a long season,' said Eugenio, citing that the Cubans had played in four tournaments since the Goodwill Games in August. 'They did not play well tonight, but I am satisfied because I know they did their best. I don't expect them to play well in this tournament. What they need now is a good rest.' The Cubans were runners-up to Russia at the Goodwill Games and again second at the World Grand Prix to Brazil, but they made amends last month by winning the World Championships. They confirmed their world number one status by clinching the Super Four Challenge trophy against Russia, Brazil and hosts Japan last week. But despite coming off two major victories within a month, the Cubans were far from impressive and only Magalys Carvajal showed glimpses of her best spiking form. Asian Games silver medallists Japan were even more disappointing and seemed to be overawed by their more illustrious rivals at the start of the match. The Japanese fared better in the second set and led 13-11, but the Cubans lifted their game and reeled off the next 10 points to take the set and opened up a handy 6-0 lead in the third. Crowd favourites China also kicked off their campaign with a convincing 15-11, 15-2, 15-12 triumph over the multi-national Yaohan team, which relied largely on their Russian recruits. The Chinese overcame a jittery start in coming back from 3-8 down to win the opening set, from which they never looked back.