Guangzhou, Dec 16: Ace India shuttler PV Sindhu became the first Indian to win the season-ending championships as she outclassed Japan's Nozomi Okuhara in straight sets in the final of BWF World Tour Finals 2018 here on Sunday (December 16).
With this win, the Hyderabadi shuttler has ended her draught of seven consecutive defeats in the finals to finally break her jinx of failing in the gold medal round. World No. 3 Sindhu defeated the World No. 7 Okuhara by 21-91, 21-17 to script history for India.
Previously Jwala Gutta-V Diju (mixed doubles) and Saina Nehwal (women's singles) reached the final of the Badminton World Tour but none of them managed to win it. Sindhu herself reached the final last year but had to settle with a silver in 2017.
Okuhara had prevailed over Sindhu in an epic final last year and Sindhu managed to take her revenge this year by producing a dominant show in another exciting match. Playing her third successive season-ending finale, Sindhu, who had lost in the summit clash to another Japanese, Akane Yamaguchi, to settle for a silver in the last edition, prevailed 21-19 21-17 in a match that lasted an hour and two minutes.
Dubbed a bridesmaid after falling short of gold on a number of occasions, Sindhu finally broke her jinx, let out tears of relief and joy, and sunk to her knees.
Saina Nehwal had reached the finals of 2011 World Super Series Finals, while Jwala Gutta and V Diju finished runners up at the 2009 edition.
Sindhu, an Olympic and World Championship silver medallist, was composed and held her nerves at the crucial moments to stay a step ahead of the Japanese through the match.
2018 for @Pvsindhu1— OGQ (@OGQ_India) December 16, 2018
Gold🥇- World Tour Grand Finals
Silver🥈- World Championships
Silver🥈- Asian Games
Silver🥈- Commonwealth Games
It's been an incredibly consistent year for #PVSindhu 👏 Well done champ! pic.twitter.com/F4yvfDRHaZ
In the first game, Okuhara made a couple of errors and Sindhu took early lead.
Sindu used some drop shots and looked good at the net to lead 7-3 but Okuhara narrowed down the deficit to 5-7. Sindhu dominated the next long rally and nosed ahead 11-6 at the mid-game break.
After the breather, Sindhu extended her lead to 14-6 before Okuhara reeled off four successive points to narrow the deficit.
Okuhara seemed to control the proceedings next as she erased the deficit to claw back at 16-16. In fact, the Japanese grabbed 10 of the 12 points after being down 6-14 down, to draw parity.
Major breakthru for @Pvsindhu1 breaks jinx of losing in finals, wins the big one, Word Tour tournament. How fantastic!— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) December 16, 2018
But Okuhara also smashed wide twice to hand Sindhu a 19-17 advantage. The Indian grabbed three game point advantage but Okuhara managed to save two before Sindhu sealed the opening game with a superb drop shot.
Sindhu engaged in long rallies with Okuhara and managed to stay 6-4 ahead at one stage of the second game. The Japanese stretched and controlled the rallies and waited for the Indian to hit out. It worked as she forced her way back at 7-7.
Sindhu, however, managed to always stay ahead and led 11-9 at the interval after Okuhara lost a video referral.
Okuhara tried to push the shuttle back of the court from the baseline and unleashed a body smash to make it 12-13. She kept snapping at her rival's heels to make it 16-17.
A return to the net gave Sindhu a 18-16 lead. A long rally ensued and it ended with Okuhara leaving it shot and Sindhu unleashing a smash to move to 19-16.
A lucky net chord took the Indian one step away from the title. Sindhu grabbed three match points and converted them immediately to seal the issue in her favour
Sindhu has been in terrific form since the start of the season-ending tournament featuring the eight top players as per the BWF rankings.
The Rio Games silver medallist had not won a single title this year, prior to today's win, despite having appeared in five finals including the World Championships, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.
Today's win would definitely boost the confidence of the 23-year-old who's managed to end 2018 on a high and would be looking for a better show in the new year.
List of 7 consecutive finals Sindhu lost, prior to this win:
1- 2017 - Hong Kong Open lost to Tai Tzu-ying (Chinese Taipei)
2- 2017 - Dubai World Superseries Finals 2017 lost to Akane Yamaguchi (Japan)
3- 2018 - India Open lost to Beiwen Zhang (USA)
4- 2018 - Commonwealth Games 2018 lost to compatriot Saina Nehwal
5- 2018 - Thailand Open lost to Nozomi Okuhara (Japan)
6- 2018 - World Championships lost to Carolina Marin (Spain)
7- 2018 - Asian Games 2018 lost to Tai Tzu-ying (Chinese Taipei)
(With inputs from PTI)