Sindhu is world champion; thrashes Okuhara 21-7, 21-7

P.V. Sindhu, who was playing in her third consecutive world championship final, dominated Okuhara to win .

P.V. Sindhu beat Nozomi Okuhara to lift her maiden world title.   -  reuters

P.V. Sindhu on Sunday became the first Indian to win the badminton World Championships by beating familiar rival Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in a lop-sided final in Basel on Sunday.

The Olympic silver-medallist Indian was in total control as she won 21-7, 21-7 in a match that lasted just 38 minutes.

Two years ago, Sindhu was robbed off the gold by Okuhara in an epic 110-minute final at Glasgow that is considered one of the greatest battles in badminton history. The Indian exorcised the ghosts of that heart-wrenching loss with a completely dominating win over the same opponent.

Sindhu lifts world championship title: As it happened

“Last time, I lost in the final, before that also I lost in the final, so it is a very important win for me. I want to thank the crowd for supporting me. I won it for my country and I am very proud being an Indian,” Sindhu said after the match.

“A big thanks to my coach Kim and Gopi sir and my supporting staff and I dedicate this win to my mom, it’s her birthday today,” she added.

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It was third time lucky for Sindhu who had lost to Okuhara and Carolina Marin, respectively, in the 2017 and 2018 finals to settle for silver twice. She had won bronze medals in the 2013 and 2014 editions.

With her fifth medal of the World Championships, Sindhu is now the joint highest medal winner in women’s singles in World Championships history, along with former Olympic champion Zhang Ning of China who won an identical set of 1 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals between 2001 and 2007.

Scripting history

Prakash Padukone became the first Indian to win a World Championships medal with a men’s singles bronze in the 1983 edition while Saina Nehwal bagged a silver and a bronze in 2015 and 2017 respectively in women’s singles.

Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa also won a bronze in women’s doubles in 2011 while B. Sai Praneeth was the latest to join the club as he settled for a bronze in the men’s singles in this edition on Saturday.

Sindhu, who has also won a silver each in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2018 Asian Games, was a class apart on Sunday as she toyed with her Japanese opponent.

P.V. Sindhu was in absolute control as she cruised past Nozomi Okuhara in a lop-sided World Championships final at Basel, Switzerland last month.

P.V. Sindhu was in absolute control as she cruised past Nozomi Okuhara without breaking a sweat.   -  Getty Images

 

Unstoppable

The fifth seeded Indian, who came into the match with an 8-7 head-to-head lead over third seeded Okuhara, was simply unstoppable as she dished out an attacking game right from the start to race to an 11-2  lead.

The Indian targeted the deep corners and unleashed her big smashes to gather points at will.

Okuhara tried to step up the pace but an alert Sindhu was up to the task. The Indian targeted Okuhara’s forehand corner to take two more points.

Sindhu used her height to produce those attacking clears which Okuhara could not negotiate. At 16-2, Sindhu committed a couple of unforced errors before again taking control of the match. Sindhu eventually grabbed 13 game points when Okuhara went long and she sealed the first game with a body blow which her rival sent out.

In the second game, Sindhu continued her rampaging form, grabbing two quick points before Okuhara earned a point with a cross court smash.

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Okuhara had no answer to Sindhu’s razor sharp returns. The Indian made the Japanese run to the deep corners with her acute angled returns and then swiftly followed them at the net to make life difficult for her opponent.

Okuhara seemed clueless as she ended up hitting the nets or missing the lines to allow Sindhu grab 11-4 lead at the interval.

Nothing changed after the breather as a relentless Sindhu kept her stranglehold on the Japanese, who crumbled under pressure.

Sindhu grabbed match point when Okuhara went long again and sealed the title when another superb return before throwing her hands in the air in celebration.

With Sindhu’s gold and Praneeth’s bronze in this edition, Indian shuttlers continue the six-year streak of winning at least one medal in the prestigious event.