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(Photo: Badminton Photo)
Marin had no answer to Okuhara
Date: 10/18/2020 5:47 PM
Published by : Yash Sharma
We are fortunate to be living in the perhaps best era of the women’s singles badminton. With eight different nations represented in the Top-10. Playing among many greats, the three-time world champion and the reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin still has a mountain to climb to be considered the greatest ever. 

Defeating the European superstar, the Japanese ace ended a two-year title drought by winning the Denmark Open 2020. Everyone will agree that Nozomi Okuhara of Japan has been one of the most consistent top badminton players in recent years. Unfortunately for her, she had lost a staggering seven finals she contested, including the World Championships and the World Tour Finals. She was outplayed a couple of times by names such as Chen Yufei, Tai Tzu Ying, and Pusarla V Sindhu last year. 

Having lost six finals last year, Okuhara showed no nerves today as she played with an incredible intensity throughout.

It was a pulsating and absorbing 56-minute affair. There were high-paced, long electric exchanges from the beginning of the match. Once the Japanese star levelled at 5-5, the Spaniard played a catch-up game the whole time. She equalled the score many times, but was never able to lead. As the frustration mounted, errors crept into Marin’s game and Okuhara won the opener.

Too many mistakes
- I made all the winners but I also made all the unforced errors. I gave her so many points. When you play like that, it is very difficult to make a comeback and win. It was not my day. She was clever to keep the shuttle in play the whole time, Marin was disappointed.

In the second game, Marin tried to inject the pace even further but the Japanese ace hung on. Leading most of the way, she had her victory 21-19, 21-17 on the third match point. 

- The key for today was to follow the gameplan. However, I got frustrated with myself during the match, Marin said.

Okuhara in supreme form
Looking at her performance today, one recalls the 2015 BWF Super Series Finals where she played her best badminton ever. Okuhara almost always plays an overhead shot. Interestingly, her backhand was on display in all its glory today. She got out of trouble on many occasions using that shot. It seems like her decision to train separately from the Japanese national system has finally paid off!

- It was fast today but I was able to keep up my footwork. She made many errors but I didn’t. The shuttle is very fast at the Denmark Open. I like the speed game, Okuhara pointed out. 

Future plans
- I enjoyed playing again and got the tournament feeling back. I will next play in January, Marin told.

- Everyone’s target is the Tokyo Olympics but only one can win. I did hard training in the last seven months and wish to keep it up, Okuhara said.

With this win, Nozomi Okuhara has further solidified her position among the favourites for the Olympics next year.

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