Nozomi Okuhara became the first Japanese shuttler to win gold in the history of the BWF World Championships.
Glasgow: Nozomi Okuhara continued her giant-killing spree in Glasgow, to defeat tournament favourite PV Sindhu of India in a nail-biting women’s singles final, on Sunday.
Although there were stages when either player would surge a few points ahead, the opposition always made their way back in each game, to keep things close, and the spectators on the edge of their seats.
Okuhara drew first blood, when she managed to clinch the first game 21-19.
Although Sindhu got off the blocks early in the second game, Okuhara fought back to eventually level things up at 20-20. Sindhu finally clinched the second game 22-20, to take the match into a third and deciding game.
Both the players were stretched to the maximum in the last game, and that was evident when the referee repeatedly had to call both of them back from taking long-ish breaks. In fact, Sindhu was even given a formal warning for taking long breaks.
Despite the interruptions, the spectators were treated to some top-class badminton, as both the players went level with each other, taking the score to 20-20. Eventually, Okuhara managed to outfox her Indian counterpart with a disguised drop-shot, to win the game, the match, and the championship.
Okuhara’s victory means that the Japanese national anthem rang out at the BWF World Championship for the first time ever. This was Japan’s first gold medal in the history of the tournament.
P.V. Sindhu 20-22 Nozomi Okuhara
And that's the end of that! Both the players have played their hearts out. Sadly there has to be a winner, and Okuhara takes the cake on this occasion. She did brilliantly in the end, to dig deep into her reserves of energy and out-fox Sindhu with a trademark drop-shot.
P.V. Sindhu 20-20 Nozomi Okuhara
What a game this has been! Neither has given an inch away, as both players stretch the match beyond the limits.
P.V. Sindhu 15-15 Nozomi Okuhara
Its clear that both players are having to dig deep into their reserves for this game. There has hardly been any difference between them, as they draw level at 13-13, 14-14, and then at 15-15.
P.V. Sindhu 12-12 Nozomi Okuhara
Sindhu gets the first warning of the day for not returning to court when asked to. Both the players seem quite out of breath.
P.V. Sindhu 10-9 Nozomi Okuhara
Sindhu had a bit of a confrontation with the referee, there. The ref insisted that the players stay on court, while Sindhu wanted to take a little rest. However, the lanky Indian came back the very next point with a big smash. Perhaps the confrontation with the referee gave her the extra energy.
P.V. Sindhu 5-5 Nozomi Okuhara
And Sindhu strikes back! She has found her form again, and levelled-up with Okuhara. Sindhu has tried to keep the rallies short, so far in this game. Is she tiring out already?
P.V. Sindhu 1-5 Nozomi Okuhara
A breezy start for the Japanese, here! Sindhu needs to find her feet soon, in the third game.
P.V. Sindhu 22-20 Nozomi Okuhara
What a rally by the two shuttlers! That last rally was 73 shots! Okuhara did well to save three game points, but Sindhu came up with ther goods in the end, to take the match into the third game.
P.V. Sindhu 15-13 Nozomi Okuhara
What a point by Sindhu! It all looked lost, but she somehow managed to stretch her long arm out and return it, as the cork struck the let chord and dropped in Okuhara's court.
P.V. Sindhu 11-8 Nozomi Okuhara
Some great rallies on display, here. It has been a game of momentum, and the match has ebbed and flowed one way or the other. While Okuhara clawed back for a while, Sindhu has maintained her lead.
P.V. Sindhu 5-1 Nozomi Okuhara
Sindhu has come out of the blocks all guns blazing! She blows past her Japanese counterpart, to take a massive 5-1 lead.
P.V. Sindhu 19-21 Nozomi Okuhara
What a breathtaking game that was! It ebbed, and flowed, and finally went Okuhara's way, as she held her nerve at the end, to steal a march over Sindhu at the end of the game.
P.V. Sindhu 18-18 Nozomi Okuhara
Okuhara seems to be calling the shots, but a wrong serve hands service to Sindhu. The service change has gotten themomentum back for Sindhu, gets it back to level on points.
P.V. Sindhu 14-16 Nozomi Okuhara
Unforced errors are never desired. While both have made a few errors, Sindhu has given a couple of gifts to Okuhara, who has now surged into the lead.
P.V. Sindhu 13-10 Nozomi Okuhara
Okuhara fights back! She has played beautifully in the last few exchanges. The pace of the rallies have been high, and Sindhu has looked unerring. However, Okuhara has played well to keep pace with the lanky Indian.
P.V. Sindhu 10-5 Nozomi Okuhara
And she's back! Sindhu seems to have found her groove. Comes up with 8 consecutive points to open up a big lead.
P.V. Sindhu 5-3 Nozomi Okuhara
Its been neck and neck in the opening exchanges. Sindhu has looked a little shaky early on, as Okuhara shoots into a 2-point lead.
Chen Qingshen and Jia Yifan of China win the women's doubles title, defeating Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota of Japan 21-18, 17-21, 21-15. Sindhu and Okuhara, meanwhile, are all set to come out onto the court after the medal-distribution ceremony.
Glasgow: For the first time in the history of the BWF World Championship, either an Indian or a Japanese shuttler will win a gold medal, as PV Sindhu and Nozomi Okuhara get ready for the women’s singles summit clash.
The two shuttlers are no strangers to each other, as they have played against each other six times, with the results split down the middle, to three each.
Although Sindhu has won two of the most recent encounters against Okuhara, giving her a slight upper hand, the Japanese shuttler has defeated tournament heavyweights like Carolina Marin of Spain and Saina Nehwal of India, and is unlikely to be fazed by the underdog tag.
Sindhu had in fact, defeated Okuhara to make it to the summit clash of the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she lost to Marin, eventually settling for silver. Meanwhile, Okuhara clinched bronze in the event.
Can the Japanese get her revenge on Sindhu on Sunday, or will the Hyderabad shuttler smash her way to glory? Lets wait and watch.
The match is set to get underway at around 6pm, IST.