PV Sindhu (World Rank: 6, India) vs (2) Nozomi Okuhara (World Rank: 5, Japan)
Head-to-head: Tied 6-6
Last meeting: Sindhu def Okuhara 21-17, 21-19 at the 2018 BWF World Championships
Last meeting in a final: Okuhara def Sindhu 21-15, 21-18 at the 2018 Thailand Open
All eyes are on the blockbuster women's singles summit clash between PV Sindhu and Nozomi Okuhara at the BWF World Tour Finals 2018 after the two set up a rematch of their 2016 World Championships final. That epic 110-minute marathon went on to become one of the best badminton matches ever played and thoroughly established that this is one of the most exciting rivalries in modern-day women's singles.
Their even head-to-head record further corroborates that there is not much to separate the two when it comes to predicting the winner of their clashes. Sindhu's relentless attack vs Okuhara's stubborn defence guarantees an exhilarating match anytime and anywhere when they cross swords. Neither of them likes to go down without a fight, which is why eight of their 12 meetings have gone the distance.
It is interesting to note that both of them have been resurgent of late. Okuhara's win at the Hong Kong Open just last month gave her back the confidence that went missing for a few tournaments in between.
And she has been able to ride on it at the BWF World Tour Finals to win each of her matches so far. Her 21-17, 21-14 demolition of her compatriot, Akane Yamaguchi in the semi-finals should leave no doubt in anyone's mind about how much conviction the Japanese has in her abilities right now. She also has the added advantage of winning this title in 2015.
Sindhu, on the other hand, lacked in energy and focus after a hectic season on the Tour and it necessitated a hiatus. She pulled out of the Syed Modi International to recharge her batteries and looks to have recovered amazingly well. The vigour and vitality is back and so is the hunger and determination to prove herself on the court. She hasn't looked weary and fatigued during rallies, nor she has backed off from making profuse use of her netplay, whenever needed.
This version of Sindhu does not solely rely on her aggression, instead she adept at mixing it up now. And that practice will come in handy when she faces Okuhara.
Pinning the Japanese to the backcourt, and finishing the points at the net is crucial for Okuhara is a master at the net as well. It will also help Sindhu to cut down the length of the rallies and conserve her energy, which is an essential element while playing someone as feisty as the former world champion.
The Indian lost this final last year to Yamaguchi in three gruelling games and since then, she could not crack the code in five other finals this year. It would mean the world to her if she can finally overcome this last hurdle, especially in such a major tournament. And for that to happen, Sindhu needs to draw inspiration from her most recent showdown with Okuhara at the World Championships, where she tactically broke down the World No. 5's game, using her finesse.
Combining her attack well with her delicate touches is the key to breaking down Okuhara. It is easier said than done, though, for the Japanese never ever backs off.
This is undoubtedly going to be one memorable finish to the 2018 season as Sindhu and Okuhara prepare to add yet another glittering chapter to their already fascinating rivalry.
Here's everything you need to know about the BWF World Tour Finals 2018:
Tournament name: HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2018
Location: Guangzhou, China
Category: Season-ending championships
Date: Sunday, December 16, 2018
Time: 1pm local time/10.30am IST
Broadcast: Live telecast on Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 1 HD
Live updates: SportskeedaPublished 16 Dec 2018, 01:42 IST