PV Sindhu – She is 5'11” tall. She is an aggressive player with killer smashes. She has a powerful backhand and a never say die attitude.
Nozomi Okuhara – Just a shade over 5 feet tall. She has a gritty defence. She keeps moving the shuttle all over the court and has an astonishing staying power however long the rallies be. Nozomi also has a never say die attitude.
When the two meet on the court, it can be explosive. The on-court rivalry between the two has been nothing short of incredible until now. The record of their face-off is 5 matches each, after Sindhu's recent win over Okuhara in the quarter-final match at the Yonex All England Open, 2018. But that figure hardly tells anything about the games they have played against each other and how they have battled for almost every point.
In this match, Sindhu was a game down initially and then went on to win the match with a scoreline that read 20-22, 21-18, 21-18.
Each match that they play against each other is extremely competitive, challenging and long. They just keep going shot after shot with their physical strength and willpower. Sindhu plays her jump smashes and jump tosses and Okuhara uses her court coverage, lunges and net play.
They have the record of the longest rally of 73 shots in the BWF World Championship finals in Glasgow in August 2017. Okuhara fell down on the court after the rally. It was also the second longest women’s singles badminton match in this format. It lasted for 110 minutes and the scoreline was close as always – 21-19, 20-22, 22-20 in favour of Okuhara.
In the Korea Open held in September 2017, they were one game each and the score in the third game at 18-16 in favour of Sindhu. They played a 56-shot rally running all over the court just refusing to give up. Finally, Sindhu won that point. This time, Sindhu collapsed on the ground. That is how every point between them goes. They never seem to end. They are tough and intense with both players giving it their best.
This is how they have fared against each other -
In the initial years, Okuhara had an upper hand. She won against Sindhu. But in the next couple of tournaments, Sindhu got better of her. In the last few matches, they have been winning alternatively.
They both are 23 years old (both are born in March incidentally!). They both have Olympic and World Championship medals. Okuhara has four Super Series titles. Sindhu has three of them.
If both players continue their fine form and do not suffer from injuries, we will be treated with some more awesome matches and their rivalry has the potential of being talked about in the same breath as great rivalries such as Lin Dan-Lee Chong Wei or Federer-Nadal or Messi- Ronaldo.Published 19 Mar 2018, 17:36 IST