P.V. Sindhu on Sunday scripted history as she became the first Indian to win badminton World Championships gold by beating arch-rival Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in a lop-sided summit clash on Sunday. The Olympic silver-medallist Indian won 21-7, 21-7 in the final that lasted just 38 minutes.
It was third time lucky for Sindhu who had lost to Okuhara and Carolina Marin of Spain respectively in the 2017 and 2018 finals to bag a silver twice. She had won a bronze each in the 2013 and 2014 editions. Sindhu is now the joint highest medal winner in women’s singles in the World Championships history with former Olympic champion Zhang Ning of China who has won an identical one gold, two silver and two bronze between 2001 and 2007.
The fifth-seeded Indian, who enjoyed an 8-7 head-to-head lead over the third-seeded Okuhara ahead of Sunday’s contest, was simply unstoppable as she dished out an attacking game right from the start to race to 8-1 lead.
The Indian targeted the deep corners and unleashed her big smashes to gather points at will. A precise net-shot helped Okuhara to snap Sindhu’s run of straight-eight points but the Indian quickly got the control back when Okuhara went wide and then unleashed two good-looking smashes to enter the break with a massive 11-2 lead. 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. The Indian eventually grabbed as many as 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 too, Okuhara had no answer to Sindhu’s razor-sharp returns. The Indian made the Japanese run to the deep corners with her acute-angle returns and swiftly followed them at the net to make life difficult for her opponent. With Sindhu’s gold and Praneeth’s bronze, the Indians continued the six-year streak of winning at least one medal at the Worlds.