In what used to be once a storied rivalry at the top stages of world badminton, the latest chapter was not much home to write about. Both PV Sindhu and Nozomi Okuhara are former world champions, and are both struggling to bounce back from injuries. On Tuesday in Finland, however, it was Sindhu who dominated her Japanese rival in a round of 32 clash at the Arctic Open.
The Indian breezed through 21-13, 21-6 in a match that lasted just 33 minutes and was a shadow of some of their meetings in the past.
Sindhu started off slowly, trailing 0-4 after the early exchanges. But the current world No 13 started dictating the tempo with her attacking strokes while Okuhara’s fame defence let her down repeatedly. If the game 1 was about Sindhu taking control after a slow start, game 2 saw Okuhara completely lose her radar as the errors piled on from her racket, missing the lines either side of the court comfortably.
Sindhu’s win meant that she went ahead 10-9 in the head-to-head against Okuhara, having lost at the World Championships recently in straight games. “Remembering multiple of our epic matches over the years,” read a post on Sindhu’s Instagram after her win. “Times can be tough but there’s always light at the end of the tunnel my gal. Keep fighting, I’ll keep cheering for you.”
Sindhu’s next match at the Super 500 event is against Wen Chi Hsu of Chinese Taipei, an opponent she defeated at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
Also progressing to the round of 16 was Aakarshi Kashyap who saved match points to defeat Lianne Tan of Germany 21-18, 20-22, 18-21. In mixed doubles, Tanisha Crasto and Sai Pratheek reached the second round. But it was end of the road for Malvika Bansod who lost 10-21, 5-21 against Supanida Katethong.