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Sindhu first Indian shuttler to win historic World C'ships gold

Source: PTI
Last updated on: August 25, 2019 22:01 IST
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Pusarla Sindhu demolishes Japan's Nozomi Okuhara in 38 minutes.

PV Sindhu

IMAGE: India's P V  Sindhu celebrates winning the Badminton World Championships women's singles final against Japan's Nozomi Okuhara, in Basel, on Sunday. Photograph: Vincent Kessler/Reuters

Pusarla Sindhu scripted history on Sunday, becoming the first Indian to win a Badminton World Championships gold, in Basel, Switzerland.

In a one-sided final, the Indian ace, who won silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics, defeated Nozomi Okuhara of Japan 21-7, 21-7 in 38 minutes.

Two years after being denied the gold by Okuhara in an epic 110-minute final at Glasgow that was considered as one of the greatest battles in badminton history, Sindhu finally exorcised the ghost of that heart-wrenching loss with a completely dominating win over the same opponent.

"Last time, I lost in the final; before that also I lost in the final, so it is a very important win for me. I want to thank the crowd for supporting me. I won it for my country and I am very proud being an Indian," Sindhu said after the match.

"A big thanks to my coach Kim and Gopi sir and my supporting staff. I dedicate this win to my mom; it's her birthday today," she added.

It was third time lucky for Sindhu, who had lost to Okuhara and Carolina Marin of Spain respectively in the 2017 and 2018 finals.

With her fifth medal from the World Championships, the 24-year-old from Hyderabad is already one of the greatest ever women's singles players in the showpiece event's history. She won a bronze each in the 2013 and 2014 editions.

Sindhu is now the joint-highest medal winner in women's singles in World Championships history, with former Olympic champion Zhang Ning of China who has won an identical 1 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze between 2001 and 2007.

Prakash Padukone was the first Indian to win a medal in the World Championships, a men's singles bronze in the 1983 edition, while Saina Nehwal bagged a silver and bronze in 2015 and 2017 respectively in women's singles.

PV Sindhu

IMAGE: Pusarla Sindhu is now the joint-highest medal winner in women's singles in World Championships history, with former Olympic champion Zhang Ning of China, who has won an identical 1 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze between 2001 and 2007. Photograph: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa also won a bronze in women's doubles in 2011 while B Sai Praneeth is the latest to join the club after winning bronze in the men's singles in this edition on Saturday.

Sindhu, who has also won a silver each in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2018 Asian Games, was a in different class on Sunday as she toyed with her Japanese opponent in all departments of the game.

The fifth seeded Indian, who enjoyed a 8-7 head-to-head lead over third seeded Okuhara ahead of Sunday's contest, was simply unstoppable as she dished out an attacking game right from the start to race to 8-1.

She targeted the deep corners and unleashed her big smashes to gather points at will.

A precise net shot helped Okuhara snap Sindhu's run of straight eight points but she quickly regained control when Okuhara went wide and then unleashed two good-looking smashes to go into the break with a massive 11-2 lead.

Okuhara tried to step up the pace but an alert Sindhu was up to the task. She targeted Okuhara's forehand corner to garner two more points.

Sindhu used her height to good advantage to produce those attacking clearances which Okuhara could not negotiate. At 16-2, Sindhu committed a couple of unforced errors before again taking control of the match.

She eventually grabbed as many as 13 game points when Okuhara went long and sealed the first game with a body blow which the Japanese sent out.

In the second game, Sindhu continued her rampaging form, grabbing two quick points before Okuhara earned a point with a cross-court smash.

Okuhara had no answer to Sindhu's razor-sharp returns. The Indian made the Japanese run to the deep corners with her acute angled returns and then swiftly followed them at the net to make life difficult for her.

Okuhara seemed clueless as she ended up hitting the net or missing the lines, allowing Sindhu to grab a 11-4 lead at the interval.

Nothing changed after the breather as a relentless Sindhu maintained her stranglehold on the Japanese.

At 16-4, Sindhu made a couple of rare errors, hitting long but that did not matter as she pounced on a weak return from Okuhara and sent it to the backline and then left the Japanese stranded with another powerful smash.

Sindhu grabbed match-point when Okuhara went long again and sealed the title with another superb return before throwing her hands in the air in celebration.

With Sindhu's gold and Praneeth's bronze in this edition, Indian shuttlers also continued the six-year streak of winning at least one medal in the prestigious event.

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