In a brilliant game of badminton, defending champion Chen Yu Fei of China defeated Japan's Nozomi Okuhara 9-21, 21-12, 21-18 to win the women's singles title in the BWF World Tour Super 750 Fuzhou China Open. The match saw both players give their best and fight hard for every point.
Okuhara seemed to be in full flow right from the beginning. She was moving around the court with the alacrity and retrieving shots with the tenacity that badminton fans know her for. Constantly failing to score points with her shots, Chen decided to go for winners that were close to the lines, but in the process, started missing them.
The Chinese lady was clearly hampered in her movements, not by any physical ailment but the psychological after-effects of rolling her ankle during Denmark Open some weeks ago. On top of that, Okuhara was playing some killer drop shots. The only area where the All England champion was having the better match was in her net-play. Eventually, the game was easily won by the Japanese.
In the second game, things turned around as Chen started moving more freely and retrieving with the same gusto as her opponent. She again tried to hit winners close to the line and unlike the first game, was actually hitting the lines rather than missing them.
Just like the first game, the exchanges on the net were dominated by Yu Fei. All this gave the home favourite a lead at the mid-game interval. After the break, Okuhara tried to fightback and attempted to attack from the front court. She even used body smashes against her Chinese opponent. But the defending champion soaked up all the pressure and didn't allow her back in the game.
So, it was all set up for an exciting third game. Chen Yu Fei was looking really good now while Okuhara still seemed in reasonably good rhythm. But then, the doctor had to be called on court to tend to, what the commentators believed was a blister on Chen's left foot.
Ater that, Chen went on a scoring spree as the Japanese shuttler seemed to lose her touch and started committing unforced errors. The score at the mid-game interval was 11-5 in the Chinese competitor's favour. But Okuhara, known for her tenacity, wasn't going to give up. She fought her way back into the game.
Throughout the matches, there were some magnificent rallies. Some of them came in the third game, one lasting as long as 56 shots. Chen was starting to look very tired but she was able to put down some powerful smashes to keep herself ahead.
Pushing forward with determination, the Chinese lady reached match points. Okuhara fought hard to save two of them but eventually, the All England champion triumphed and became the first player since Li Xuerei in 2012 to retain this title.