New Delhi: Up till now it was between Indian shuttler PV Sindhu and Spaniard Carolina Marin, but somewhere into the second half of 2017, the much-praised and talked about badminton rivalry vanished into eternity to give birth to yet another – between Sindhu and Japanese ace Nozomi Okuhara. And with the 2017 edition of Japan Open lined up, the duo are set to face off the fourth successive time this year
Although Sindhu-Marin rivalry had seen that first of its kind back in World Junior Championships 2010 where the Indian had pulled off a 21-17, 21-19 win over the European, but the duo first came to notice during the Rio Olympics final showdown where Sindhu was outperformed by Marin 21-19, 12-21, 15-21. With the two facing each other for a total of nine times in an international scenario, Marin dominates head-to-head tie 5-4.
But somehow, as the game drifted further into 2017, a new rivalry shaped up – Sindhu and Okuhara. Badminton Asia Youth U-19 Championships 2012 was the first time when the two had faced each other and the Indian shuttler took off with a 1-0 lead into their head-to-head tie, by winning 21-18, 17-21, 20-22. Since then, they faced seven more times on an international platform with the most fascination of them being the World Championships final 2017. A relentless and a pulsating and an eye-grasping battle, dubbed as one of the greatest battles of all time in women;s badminton, ended in favour of the Japanese 21-19, 20-22, 22-20.
But fate had brought the two of them together for the third time in 2017 at the Korea Open final. And yet another epic battle at Seoul ended with a score of 20-22, 21-11, 18-21 as Sindhu avenged her Worlds defeat. “Everybody used to say I had a rivalry with Carolina (Marin) but now maybe they’re saying it’s Okuhara,” Sindhu told the Badminton World Federation.
The 4-4 head-to-head tie now heads to Japan where Okuhara could...'could' meet Sindhu with home crowd advantage in her favour. While for the Indian, she has a tough draw ahead of her. The 22-year-old will start off her campaign to bag her maiden Japan title, taking on Japanese shuttler Minatsu Mitani, whom she had defeated in a three-setter battle in the Korea Open.