Saturday 26 August 2017
Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara has her sights firmly set on the gold medal after she caused the upset of the day at the TOTAL BWF World Championships, knocking out defending champion Carolina Marin.
The Japanese seventh seed will face India’s Saina Nehwal in the semi-final after defeating Marin 21-18 14-21 21-15.
It all seemed too easy when Okuhara took the first game, but the Spaniard soon showed why she is two-time World champion with a second-game comeback.
Okuhara finally closed out the match after a 93-minute slog and felt the victory was a sign of greater things to come, already guaranteed to go home with a gold medal.
“I’m very happy, but very tired,” she said. “Carolina Marin is a very speedy player, she has a strong attack.
“In the third game, I told myself that I had to fight so I can reach the final and that third game was good.
“I’ve got a bronze medal, but I’m not stopping here, of course I want the gold medal here and the gold medal at the Olympics in 2020.”
Marin was disappointed that her title defence had come to an end at the quarter-final stage, but the Olympic gold medallist is already looking to the future.
“It wasn’t enough today, but I need to learn from it and keep going with my training,” she said.
“It’s tough for me to lose in the quarter-final because my goal was to win the gold medal, but I have to learn from it and give my best in the next tournament.”
Danish pair Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen joined compatriot Viktor Axelsen in the semi-finals after a three-game epic against Japan’s Shiho Tanaka and Koharu Yonemoto.
The second seeds were dominant in the early stages, winning the first game 21-5, but Tanaka and Yonemoto fought to take the second game 21-18.
Match points abounded in the final game, but the Danes roared with relief as they eventually put an end to proceedings, winning 27-25.
“At the end we just told ourselves to keep moving our legs and think about hitting them right in the stomach, doing the right tactic,” Juhl said.
“We knew we had to be brave, not stand back and just wait for them to do something – it had to be us who took the initiative.
“We succeeded in the end, but when you’re so close both pairs can win so that’s why we showed so much joy after the match.”
Reigning Olympic and World champion Chen Long continued his title defence, beating fellow Chinese shuttler Tian Houwei 21-12 21-17.
Chen could face five-time World champion Lin Dan in the final, but knows he must make it past Axelsen in the semi-final first.
“I have played Viktor several times and I hope both of us can give the audience a very good performance tomorrow,” he said.
“Today I played against my teammate and I had to try my best because it was an excellent game, so I need a good rest now.”
Elsewhere, Indonesia’s Mohammed Ahsan and Rian Agung Saputro, the only unseeded players left in the tournament, advanced to the last eight while Korean first seed Son Wan Ho completes the men’s singles semi-final line-up.
The TOTAL BWF Badminton World Championships 2017 will be staged at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena from 21-27 August.
Film and article by Sportsbeat.
History was made on finals day at the TOTAL BWF World Championships as Viktor Axelsen became the first European player to win men’s singles gold in 20 years.