PV Sindhu was outclassed by a dominant Nozomi Okuhara in the second semi-final of the Singapore Open Super 500 badminton tournament on Saturday to end India’s challenge in the competition.
The 23-year-old, playing in her second semi-final of the year, was no match to the guile and speed of the former world champion and lost 21-7, 21-11 in just 37 minutes.
Okuhara will now face world number one Tai Tzu Ying, who had to save five match points before beating Akane Yamaguchi 15-21, 24-22, 21-19 in the first semi-final.
With Tzu Ying and Yamaguchi setting the tone, one expected Sindhu and Okuhara to dish out another close encounter but all those hopes were dashed once the latter began the proceedings at a completely different pace to the Indian.
Okuhara, who had hammered Saina Nehwal in the quarter-finals, was always a couple of steps ahead of Sindhu in the rallies and raced to a 5-0 lead before the Indian could even get on the scoreboard. Sindhu briefly picked up her pace that was just an aberration as the Japanese went into the mid game interval with a 11-3 lead.
Things hardly got better for Sindhu after the break as Okuhara continued to keep her pinned to the back court and then won points with cross-court drop winners on either side of her opponent to wrap the game 21-7.
Sindhu did start the second game slightly better by showing the patience to stay in the rallies and when she managed to find a cross court winner after a 48-shot rally early on, hopes of a fight back were definitely raised. That rally was much of what we have come to expect from the Sindhu-Okuhara rivalry. It was, however, only a brief flicker.
Okuhara was clearly playing at a different level and she responded by adding more pace to the rallies and Sindhu simply wilted under the added pressure. It turned out to be most one-sided encounter of their match-up as Okuhara levelled the head-to-head to 7-7 after 14 matches.