At the Badminton World Championships in Glasgow, former world number 1, Saina Nehwal had to settle for a bronze after being defeated by Japanese shuttler Nozomi Okuhara. In a 78 minute long match, it was a battle of attrition for both players. But ultimately, Okuhara triumphed and became the first Japanese player to make it to the final.
Nehwal started off strongly but was unable to sustain the same amount of energy. In the very first game itself, with the score reading 2-2, the Indian prevailed in a 32-shot rally and from there onwards she led 6-2. Okuhara fought back to make the score 5-9 and then with the score reading 11-6 in Saina’s favour, they took a short break. Saina later took the first game 21-12.
In the second set, Nozomi started on the front foot and took a 4-0 lead. Nehwal fought back to level at 9-9. Some fierce battling later, Okuhara forced the match into a decider as she took the second set 21-17. In the third set, Saina went on the offense and took a 3-1 lead. But her Japanese opponent found another gear and banged in 5 points to lead 6-3. A few unforced errors from Nehwal gave Nozomi the advantage. From then on, Okuhara raced to a score of 21-10 to seal a berth in the final.