Korea Open Highlights:
- Nehwal lost 21-15, 15-21, 20-22
- It was Saina’s third consecutive defeat against the Japanese
- The defeat ended India’s campaign at the tournament
- Okuhara will play country mate Yamaguchi in the semi-final
A disappointing campaign at the Korea Open came to a close for India after Saina Nehwal crashed out against Japanese Nozomi Okuhara. Tasting one of her most bitter defeats till date, Nehwal dropped four match points to lose her third successive match to Okuhara 21-15, 15-21, 21-16. With it curtains were drawn on India’s fight at the world tour super 500 tournaments after the first round defeats of Sameer Verma and Vaishnavi Jakka Reddy.
Taking on a rival who Saina had struggled against in recent times, Nehwal looked to better her record of 6-3 against the Japanese. Things did not start off as Saina would have liked though with the opening set of the quarter-final summit seeing Okuhara establish a 3-0. Finding time to get into her groove, Nehwal finally got going to even find herself going in with a slender advantage of 11-10 in the first break.
Continuing to pocket points, Saina won five consecutive points to win eight-game points and bag the first set 21-15 to move into a crucial 1-0 lead.
Refusing to go down without a fight, the gutsy world no.3 Okuhara staged a worthy comeback in the second set to down her opponent 15-21. Breaking off at 8-8 to make it 14-9, Okuhara ensured there were no stumbles this time around as she went onto level the match at 1-1.
Nehwal stepped up in the decider, taking a 4-1 lead. She never able to shake off Okuhara though who kept snapping at her heels throughout the set. Clawing back to reduce the margin to 10-11, Okuhara was finding her footing in the match before the match turned Nehwal’s way. Finally looking to be slipping away from Okuhara with Nehwal notching up six points on the trot to race into a 16-10 lead, the match saw its final twist play out.
Okuhara showed her fighting spirit to stun Nehwal on the day. Bagging a consecutive six points, Okuhara emerged victorious on the day, leaving Nehwal ruing in sheer frustration. The world no.10 let go off four game points which the Japanese dynamo pounced on to inflict a defeat similar to the one she had in the Asian Games on Nehwal.