What better way to resume the Superseries season than with an encore of the World Championships final that set the badminton world on fire? Less than a month after regaling the sports fandom with a brutal and brilliant match, PV Sindhu and Nozomi Okuhara are set to cross swords yet again.
The two gave a testimony of their never-say-die attitude, spirit, determination and resilience in that match. Remember how the two indefatigable stars orchestrated a spectacular 73-shot rally? Could there be a repeat of all that?
LIVE COMMENTARY: PV Sindhu vs Nozomi Okuhara, Korea Open SS final
Judging by their performances and their road to the final, Okuhara has to be favoured in this clash. The Japanese has used her World Championships success to elevate her confidence level even further.
She has not dropped a game yet in Seoul this year. Even against her own compatriot -- the second-seeded Akane Yamaguchi -- she emerged a 21-17, 21-18 winner in the semi-finals.
The Rio Olympic silver medallist, on the other hand, has shown signs of struggle and a few lapses have led her to concede a couple of games -- against the 19th ranked Minatsu Mitani in the quarter-finals and against the sixth-seeded He Bingjiao in the semi-finals.
The pattern has been the same in the two matches where she did concede games. After a smashing start where she showed her full arsenal of attacking shots, the lanky Pullela Gopichand protégé let errors creep into her game in the second and got her act together only in the decider.
Sindhu has to ensure that there is no such repeat against the World Champion for such a loss of focus against the Japanese would prove to be fatal for her own chances. Okuhara is very good at coming back into matches and that was evidenced by her display in the third game of the World Championships final.
She possesses abundant talent and intelligence to blunt Sindhu’s attack and impose her own defensive game to tire her out. Sindhu’s main aim would be not to engage in those gruelling rallies and to keep the World No. 9 away from the net as much as possible, for Okuhara’s net game is a thing of beauty and Sindhu would not want to deal with that.
This promises to be a blockbuster although it needs to be said that Sindhu has to be at her absolute flawless best to outsmart the Japanese.
Here's everything you need to know ahead of the match:
World Rankings: Sindhu is 4th while Okuhara is 9th
Head-to-head: Okuhara leads 4-3
Last meeting: Okuhara won 21-19, 20-22, 22-20 in the 2017 World Championships final in August
Channel: Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD
Live streaming: Star Sports Hotstar
Date: September 17, 2017
Time: Fourth on court after an 11am local time start. Expected to begin around 9.45am IST