Photo credit: Tang Shi
Japan’s third finalist of the day was Nozomi Okuhara, World Champion from 2017. She faced the World Champion from 2018 in today’s battle of champions when the two played the final at Japan Open.
Nozomi Okuhara is one of few players on the World Tour who has a positive statistic against the triple Spanish World Champion. The two could celebrate their 10-match anniversary today – the Japanese had won 6 of the previous 9 encounters. She also won the two latest battles between the two so it was Marín who was seeking revenge today.
Needless to say, Okuhara would obviously love to take the title for the second time on home soil. She won her first Japan Open title in 2015 when she defeated compatriot Akane Yamaguchi in the final. Carolina Marín on the other hand came to Japan as the defending champion from last year. All the ingredients for a great match were surely present.
It started out very closely
It was a close affair in the beginning of first game. The first ten points were split equally between the two sides and Nozomi Okuhara was the first to get a small lead at 10-6. Carolina Marín came back at 12-12 though but the Japanese responded by taking the lead again. Up 19-16 things looked very good for Okuhara but little did it help as Marín once again came back. With five consecutive points she eased past Okuhara and took first game 21-19 on her first game point. Okuhara was shaken during the last few rallies, and she was probably pretty tired of the situation in that very moment.
Things turned around
Carolina Marín was much faster than her opponent today and continued her high speed in second game. She won the first couple of points but Okuhara was still in the game and suddenly it was the Japanese who ran away. She went on a 5-point lead and now it was Marín who was a bit shaken.
But things went like they had done all the way through first game. Carolina Marín once again caught up with Okuhara and from 11 all there was only one point difference in the scoring up to 17 all. Here Okuhara brought herself to game point at 20-17. When Marín hit the shuttle into the net, the first three game final of the day was a fact.
She missed the train…
The Spaniard won the first three points in last game – her biggest lead in the match so far. Okuhara came on the scoring board as she outplayed Marín at the net. Second later Marín did the same so it was 1-1 on that account.
Now the last Japanese Shinkansen train had gone and Okuhara was left alone at the station. Carolina Marín put on her turbo and outplayed the local darling completely during first half of third game. Even though Nozomi Okuhara is known for never giving up, her mission seemed close to impossible when the scoring said 10-1 to the triple World Champion.
The World Champion from last year never recovered from this shock she had gotten in the last game. Marín on the contrary just added on and showed no mercy as the claimed the Japan Open title with 21-11.
Thereby the Spaniard did get her revenge from the two defeats in the previous two encounters. She also added a second consecutive title at Japan Open as well as 11,000 nice points to the world ranking. With the play Marín pulled up in Tokyo this week it would not be a surprise to see her on top of the podium in Chinas as well next Sunday.
Nozomi Okuhara, Japan vs. Carolina Marín, Spain 21-19 17-21 21-11
Total point score: 59-51
Total points played: 110
Length of match: 75 min
Average points per minute: 1.47
Average seconds per point: 40.91 sec
Stay tuned! There are more updates from the Japan Open finals on the way…