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PV Sindhu loses close final, settles for silver in World Badminton Championships

PV Sindhu’s gallant effort to become India’s first ever World Champion ended in a heart- wrenching defeat against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara at the World Badminton Championships.

other sports Updated: Aug 28, 2017 10:26 IST
Sandip Sikdar
Sandip Sikdar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PV Sindhu,World Badminton Championships,Nozomi Okuhara
PV Sindhu returns against Nozomi Okuhara during their women's singles final match at the World Badminton Championships.(AFP)

PV Sindhu’s dream of becoming a world champion was deflated by Japanese Nozomi Okuhara, who went on to clinch the marathon women’s singles final that lasted, and also will be remembered, for ages.

The summit clash lasted an unbelievable and incredible one hour and 50 minutes, and at the end, it was Nozomi who was the last woman standing as she overcame the Indian fourth seed Sindhu’s challenge 21-19, 20-22, 22-20 to take gold at the World Badminton Championships in Glasgow on Sunday evening.

It was the reversal of fortunes exactly after a year. At Rio 2016, it was Sindhu who beat Nozomi for a place in the final as the Japanese had to settle for a bronze while the Indian ended with silver. The Japanese world No12 made sure the colour of Sindhu’s medal did not change a year down the line.

The epic final had everything an audience could have asked for -- intensity, patience, thrill, grit and frustration. But eventually there could have been only one winner with Nozomi taking gold and Sindhu settling for the silver -- her third medal at the Worlds after two bronze in 2013 and 2014.

READ | PV Sindhu wins hearts despite World Badminton Championships final loss

But kudos to both, who made sure they drained every speck of energy from each other to give the spectators exactly what they had paid for. So close was the contest that of the 124 points played, Sindhu won 61 while Nozomi took 63.

India’s elusive hunt for a world champion in the sport continues as Japan got theirs after a gap of 40 years. Etsuko Toganoo and Emiko Ueno had won gold for the East Asian nation in the first ever World Championships (in women’s doubles).

There was huge support for Sindhu at the Emirates Arena and she took advantage of that to race away to an 11-5 lead in the first game. But Nozomi tested the World No 4 Indian and extended the rallies, tactics she used to good effect in the semi-final against Saina Nehwal.

And it worked. Nozomi tired out Sindhu by prolonging the rallies as the Hyderabadi tried to close the points quickly and made errors. The Japanese lobbed and backed them up with drops, making Sindhu bend and rise quite regularly -- draining her.

GALLERY | PV Sindhu settles for silver at World Badminton Championships

The result: Sindhu gave away a big lead to eventually lose the game.

Sindhu again got off to a strong start in the second game, to lead 9-3. But this time the Pullela Gopichand protégé did not allow Nozomi to hit smashes, picking her shots early and finishing them.

The Indian was fired up now. Her “come ons” got louder.

From 17-20, Nozomi levelled the game at 20-all but Sindhu suddenly found legs to win two straight points and push the topsy-turvy contest into the decider.

Japan's Nozomi Okuhara displays her medal following her victory against India's PV Sindhu. (REUTERS)

Nozomi showed incredible ability to retrieve and kept coming back as Sindhu tried maintaining a slender lead with both displaying badminton of the highest class, tiring themselves out. They tried taking as much time as possible between points. But Sindhu pushed the limit and got a yellow card as warning from the umpire.

Sindhu had a 19-17 advantage towards the end but Nozomi showed pure nerve to win five of the next six points to win her maiden title despite Sindhu saving a matchpoint, earning her fourth victory over the Indian in seven meetings.

First Published: Aug 27, 2017 23:01 IST