Sindhu lost the first game to came back brilliantly in the second; but ultimately went down in the final encounter
In a match that lasted an unbelievable one hour and 50 minutes, it was Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara who drew the last blood to clinch the Woman’s singles final by defeating India’s PV Sindhu at the World Badminton Championship (WBC) final on Sunday.
The match, which was more than worthy of a final and would go down as one of the greatest matches of all time, was packed with a gritty performance from both the rivals with such an intensity that the match went on to become the second longest match at the WBC in the women’s category.
In the evenly poised battle, Okuhara narrowly defeated Sindhu with a score of 21-19, 20-22, 22-20 in her favour. So close was the contest that of the 124 points played, Sindhu won 61 while Okuhara took 63. Nevertheless, the 2 points in favour of Okuhara ensured that Sindhu would have to settle for silver at second consecutive world tournament within a year’s time. Last year, she had clinched silver at the Rio Olympics after getting defeated in the final.
What would hurt Sindhu the most is that she lost two of the three rounds even after dominating the start of all the three. Very much like her previous games, Okuhara was successful in changing gears at the latter half of the rounds and ended up on the winning side by the end of it.
Sindhu might have ended on the losing side but the silver medal does adds another feather in her cap, which already includes two bronze medals from the same tournament and a silver from the Rio Olympics. Sindhu was the first Indian to win a woman’s single World Championship medal and the first Indian to play a badminton Olympic final.
After the match, a seemingly heartbroken Sindhu offered words of praise for the newly crowned world champion while also sharing the feeling of losing an evenly poised battle with a very narrow margin.
“I’ve always known she was never easy. And we would never leave the shuttle. I’ve always played long matches against her and was prepared for this. But in the end, it could’ve been anyone. It was her,” Sindhu said of Okuhara.
“It was anybody’s game. It’s upsetting to lose, but you can’t say anything at the end of such a match. It was never over from both sides. The third game went to 20-all. Every point was tough and we were both not getting go. Obviously anybody would aim for a gold because this is the final of the World Championship, but that last moment changed everything,” she said.
Although, PV Sindhu had an upper hand coming into the match with a 3-all head to head record against Okuhara, the match was still evenly poised as Okuhara had had a great run lately. The Rio olympic bronze medalist had made to the final after defeating Olympic gold medalist Carolina Marin in the quarterfinal and bronze medalist SainaNehwal in the semifinal.