Birmingham: Nothing could be better than winning an All England title to top her birthday celebration when Nozomi Okuhara fought back from a set down against two-time champion Wang Shixian of China 21-11, 16-21, 21-19 to win the thrilling women’s singles final on Sunday.
In the decider, Okuhara looked tired and was behind for most of the set. She produced a late surge against the 2011 and 2014 champion Wang Shixian of China, trailing from 14-17 down to advance 19-17 ahead, allowed Wang tied it at 19-19, before clinching the 99 minutes marathon match with 21-11, 16-21, 21-19.
Okuhara collapsed to the ground after scoring the winning point and became the first Japanese singles player to win All England in 39 years. Hiroe Yuki was the last Japanese female badminton player to win the All England in 1977.
“This is my best birthday gift ever,” said Okuhara after her victory.
In men’s doubles, it was an outstanding day in the history of Russian badminton when the unseeded Russian pair of Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Sozonov made their country proud after winning Russia’s first ever All England men’s doubles champion by defeating No. 6 seeds Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa of Japan.
The Russian pair who were ousted in the 1st round of all previous four All England tournaments, did not let history repeat itself this time, after dropping their first set, they fought back to clinch the title with 21-23, 21-18, 21-16 in 71 minutes.
“Before I came to England, I was joking if we can make past the first round, we will be the champions,” said Ivan Sozonov after the match.
“This is definitely a new chapter for Russian badminton. It’s still hard to believe, but we are proud to be the All England champions,” added Sozonov.