Nozomi Okuhara was simply brilliant in all her matches of the year-ending BWF World Super-series Finals at Dubai. The Japanese didn’t drop a game during the week-long event, beat world champion Carolina Marin twice and India’s Saina Nehwal once. She was a personified picture of commitment, when she took on China’s Wang Yihan in women’s singles title game and although Yihan scared her in the first game, Okuhara had the last word in taking the coveted crown. Okuhara’s compatriot Kento Momota played equally well and twice defeated Viktor Axelsen and also accounted for Jan O Jorgensen. His second victory against Axelsen brought him the men’s singles title. Men’s world no.1 Chen Long had lost in the semifinal to Axelsen while women’s top star Carolina Marin went out of the reckoning after her second loss against Okuhara. India fared poorly with Kidambi Srikanth losing all three of his Pool matches while Saina Nehwal came up with a terribly inconsistent performance. Saina never looked like a dominant player and her only consolation was the victory against Marin in the second Pool match. In doubles finals, Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan won men’s team title; China’s Luo Ying/Lou Yu won women’s and England’s Chris and Gaby Adcock won the mixed event.
The BWF Dubai World Superseries Finals on Sunday, December 13, 2015 proved be a historically memorable day for Japan. Nozomi Okuhara and Kento Momota won women and men’s finals to make it a grand double for their nation in an unprecedented sweep of singles titles. Okuhara had a tough match against China’s Wang Yihan but the Japanese produced a stubbornly defensive performance that broke the resolve of her Chinese opponent Wang Yihan. In the first game, Yihan’s dangerous forehand slice seemed to work but Okuhara held on to her defenses and usually scored in long rallies. The game went to the wire after Okuhara led 14-6 at one stage but Yihan fought back to catch up with the Japanese and held a game point. Fortune, however, favored Okuhara, when two of Yihan’s sliced shots clipped the top of the net and couldn’t go over. After Okuhara took the closely fought first game 22-20, Yihan jumped to a 15-9 lead in the second. It was here that the Japanese demonstrated her mental strength as she clawed back to draw level and reverse the lead. Yet again, Okuhara prevailed in long rallies and her title came in 63 minutes with six straight points as she finished a 22-20, 21-18 winner. From the first day Okuhara had shown her intent, when she literally outplayed India’s Saina Nehwal. In her other two Pool matches, Okuhara defeated Korea’s Tai Tzu Ying on second day and world champion Carolina Marin and in the last Pool match to enter the semifinals. In the semifinal, Okuhara defeated Marin once again and entered the final.
Soon after Nozomi Okuhara’s women’s title, Japan won another singles title, when Kento Momota defeated Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen in men’s final. However, unlike Okuhara’s industrious effort against Yihan, Momota didn’t need to work too hard. After he conquered world no.1 Chen Long in the semifinals, Axelsen looked off-color against the young Japanese. In the 38-minute final, Momota repeated his earlier pool-B victory over the Dane by keeping up the pressure throughout the match and with Axelsen committing too many errors, the Japanese clinched the match 21-15, 21-12.
The fiercely contested men’s doubles final was won by Indonesia’s world champions Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan. After losing the opening game, the Indonesian duo overcame the challenge thrown at them by China’s Chai Biao/Hong Wei. The Chinese had a firm grip in the first game with Hong’s ferocious smashes finding their marks. But Ahsan/Setawan reversed the trend in the next two games to win at 13-21, 21-14, 21-14. The mixed doubles crown was won by England’s husband-and-wife team of Chris and Gabrielle Adcock, who had lost two of their Pool matches. But they bounced back to enter the semifinals. In the final, Chris/Gaby spent just 37 minutes on court in scoring a comfortable 21-14, 21-17 win against Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha Na.
For China, the lone title in the Super-series Finals came in women’s doubles with the twins Luo Ying and Luo Yu beating Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl 14-21, 21-9, 14-4 (retired). For India’s K Srikanth and Saina Nehwal, Dubai’s BWF Super-series Finals turned out to be an eminently forgettable affair. While Srikanth lost all his three Pool matches against Momota, Axelsen and Chou Tien Chen, Saina failed because of her inconsistency. She lost the first match to Okuhara but surprised herself by beating Carolina Marin in three games on second day. Just when everyone expected Saina to enter the semifinals, she fell miserably against Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying in the last Pool match. Tzu Ying took full advantage of Saina’s error-prone game and while the Taiwanese didn’t derive any benefit herself, her victory against the Indian sent Carolina Marin into the semifinals.
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