Tokyo: PV Sindhu and Nozomi Okuhara did not follow the script like their previous few matches against each other.
Unlike their World Championships or Korea Open finals, the second round game in Japan Open Super Series was not a cliffhanger. It was rather one-sided as Okuhara dominated the play for most part of the game.
Sindhu, however hard she tried, failed to be clinical and ended up making errors and suffered a tame defeat against Okuhara. She bowed out of the Japan Open after the 18-21 8-21 loss to the World Champion from Japan.
In less than month’s time, the two badminton stars faced each other on the badminton court and Okuhara got the better of Sindhu for the second time. After beating her in the World Championships final in Glasgow in August, Okuhara suffered a loss at the Korea Open final last Sunday.
The world number two player from India began the match on a good note and took an early lead with some gritty shots but her steam fizzled out slowly as Okuhara made a comeback. Unforced errors combined with some uncharacteristic shots from Sindhu gave Okuhara the lead. From 11-9 at the changeover, Sindhu went down 11-14 before making it 18-16. But then Okuhara gathered five straight points to win the game.
The second game was a different scene altogether. For the first time in a match against Okuhara, Sindhu failed to make it to the double digits, surrendering the game 21-8.
Troubled by Okuhara’s defence, Sindhu netted most of her shots. The Indian looked unclear in her mind and even at 19-8 she played a half-hearted shot that hit the net.
The cross court backhand shots were hit straight in the net as well. Okuhara now leads the head-to-head 5-4 but both players have won two matches each in their last four encounters.