PV Sindhu has exacted revenge for her World Championship defeat to Nozomi Okuhara by beating the Japanese 22-20, 11-21, 21-18 at the Korea Open Superseries final in an hour and 23 minutes. With this win, Sindhu has also become the first Indian to win the prestigious Korea Open.
The two players had previously played a grueling three-game summit clash at the World Championships last month, which lasted an hour and 50 minutes, and the 22-year-old Japanese had come out on top. The same level of energy was expected from the duo and they didn’t disappoint.
Sindhu started the match on the offensive, playing a drop shot that Okuhara failed to lift. Sindhu tried to keep her angles correct and with brilliant use of her long reach, she raced to a 5-3 lead in the first game. However, Okuhara scripted a lovely comeback to level at 7-7 as her long shots forced Sindhu to hit wide of the court. Sindhu then fell behind as the Japanese led 11-9 at the mid-game interval. But post the changeover, Sindhu came up with a different strategy, playing crosscourt smashes and hitting long shots that helped her level the score at 12-12. The duo continued exchanging points until the score reached 17-17. After that the Indian’s two back-to-back unforced errors handed the Japanese a lead and another wide shot later, Okuhara got
Okuhara, who hadn't dropped a single game in the tournament until the first game of the final, marched ahead with an early 7-3 lead in the second game by focusing more at the net. But the Japanese’s unforced errors kept Sindhu going, who also made a considerable number of unforced errors in the game as Okuhara took a five-point lead at 11-6 at the changeover. Trailing 7-14 at the mid-game interval, Sindhu started attacking her opponent's weak backhand and the strategy worked initially, but Okuhara raised her net play to win two points to take the match to the decider.
In the third game, perhaps nervousness told as both finalists committed a flurry of unforced errors, but as the Hyderabadi took an 8-4 lead, the pressure told as Okuhara failed to work up her rhythm. Sindhu again started targeting the Japanese’s backhand with her powerplay to go the mid-game interval with a comfortable 11-5 lead. The Japanese attempted a comeback with down-the-line smashes to lessen the gap to 8-12. However, Sindhu displayed some solid attack with her backhand to edge ahead at 18-14. Then came the biggest rally of the match – a 56-shot one – that handed Sindhu the lead at 19-16. Another fantastic long rally resulted in Sindhu ending the match to secure her third Superseries
Manjeet Chillar or Sandeep Narwal? Which all-rounder will have more points?
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