Nozomi Okuhara

Nozomi Okuhara (奥原 希望, Okuhara Nozomi, born 13 March 1995)[1] is a Japanese badminton player and the former World's No. 1 in BWF rankings for the women's singles, well known for her speed, agility and endurance. She won a bronze at the 2016 Summer Olympics,[2] and gold medal at the 2017 World Championships.

Nozomi Okuhara
奥原 希望
Nozomi Okuhara cropped (1).jpg
Okuhara at Australia Open Super Series 2017
Personal information
Birth nameNozomi Okuhara
Born (1995-03-13) 13 March 1995 (age 25)
Ōmachi, Nagano, Japan
Height1.56 m (5 ft 1 in)
Weight51 kg (112 lb)
Women's singles
Career record320 wins, 103 losses
Highest ranking1 (29 October 2019)
Current ranking4 (17 March 2020)
BWF profile

Career summaryEdit

Okuhara started playing badminton since 2002. Eight years later, precisely in 2010 she joined the Japanese national team. The 2010 Osaka International Challenge became her international debut.


In 2010, Okuhara reached the final of Lao International which she lost to Nitchaon Jindapol.[3] The 16-year-old Okuhara became the youngest women's singles champion ever at the Japanese National Badminton Championships in 2011.[4] Additionally, she won the Austrian title by defeating her teammate Mayu Sekiya and a bronze medal at World Junior Championships.

Okuhara was a runner-up at the Asian Junior Championships,[5] and helped her team in winning the mixed team title. She later clinched the gold medal at the World Junior Championships,[6] having won bronze one year earlier at the 2011 BWF World Junior Championships. In July, she won her first Grand Prix title at the Canada Open.


In 2013, while competing in her quarterfinal match against Saina Nehwal at Malaysia Open, she suffered a severe knee injury in the 3rd game and remained out of International circuit for almost an year.[7] On her way to comeback in elite level of competition, she participated in first tournament in November since her last in January 2013 at the China Premier event.

In 2014, she won New Zealand Open beating Kana Ito in final.[8] She also won Vietnam Grand Prix[9] and Korean Grand Prix titles.[10] She reached her first Superseries' final at the Hong Kong Open in year end. On her way to the final, she defeated Reigning World Champion Carolina Marín in semifinal in 2 very one-sided games. However, she finished second best to Tai Tzu-ying in the final contest.[11]


Okuhara won two Grand Prix Gold titles at Malaysia[12] and United States.[13] In both occasions, she got the better of her compatriots Sayaka Takahashi and Sayaka Sato respectively. She also won China International Challenge event.[14] At the Malaysian Superseries event, she played the longest ever Women's singles match against Wang Shixian in quarterfinal which lasted for whopping 111 minutes.[15] Okuhara lost that match and was cramping heavily at the end. Scorecard was 21–19, 15–21, 20–22 in favour of Shixian. She won her first Superseries title at Japan Open in the final defeating her colleague Akane Yamaguchi with score of 21–18, 21–12.[16] At the World Championships in Jakarta seeded 9th, she failed to get past Thai Porntip Buranaprasertsuk in 1st round having lost to her twice before.[17] Just like previous season, Okuhara again reached the final of Hong Kong Open. She lost a very difficult encounter to Carolina Marín there, a contest of 3 games with very tight scoreline.[18] At the end of the 2015 BWF season, she won the Dubai World Superseries final. On her path through without dropping a single game, she defeated all of her opponents namely Saina Nehwal, Tai Tzu-ying and top seed Carolina Marín. She defeated Marín twice, first in the preliminary round and again in semifinals with very one-sided scores. In the final she beat Wang Yihan 22–20, 21–18.[19]


In 2016, she won the prestigious All England Open on her Birthday after defeating Wang Shixian in the final with score 21–11, 16–21, 21–19, and thereby became the first Japanese women's singles player to lift this title in 39 years since Hiroe Yuki's triumph back in 1977.[20] She was seeded 6th for Rio Olympic Games. She deteated Akane Yamaguchi in quarterfinal 11–21, 21–17, 21–10 and reached the semis. Her opponent for semifinal was No. 9 seed P. V. Sindhu. Okuhara had no answers to Indian's attacking play and she went down in 2-straight games 19–21, 10–21.[21] In the bronze medal match she was given walkover against Li Xuerui of China as her opponent was injured. In the process, she became Japan's first ever Badminton Women's singles player to win an Olympic medal. In the China Superseries in November, she developed shoulder issues which forced her to withdraw from Hong Kong Open and her chance of defending the Dubai Superseries Finals title was thwarted.[22]

In 2017, okuhara claimed her first ever Australian Open title with a win over Akane Yamaguchi.[23] Continuing her good form, she participated at the World Championships seeded 7th. After defeating Canada's Rachel Honderich and teammate Aya Ohori, she had an uphill task against Carolina Marín of Spain in quarters. She beat Marín, the two-time reigning Champion in a gruelling battle of an hour and 33 minutes. She also claimed hard-fought victory over Saina Nehwal in semis, having lost the opening game. For the final, she faced opposition from P. V. Sindhu. She managed to edge a 21–19, 20–22, 22–20 victory over the Indian; in one of the classics of Badminton history. Match stretched for 1:50 hours, making it the 2nd longest match in Women's singles badminton ever. Ironically enough, the longest one was also played by Okuhara; in 2015 against Shixian at the Malaysian Superseries, which she lost. With Okuhara's victory, she became the first ever Japanese to win the World title since 1977.[24] After her triumph at the World stage, she also reached the final of Korean Open Premier Superseries, in which P. V. Sindhu managed to beat Okuhara.[25] However afterwards she suffered knee injury and her performance dipped. She opted not to participate at the Dubai Superseries Finals, as not to aggravate her knee problems.


In May, Okuhara helped Japan to win the Uber Cup again after 37 years. Japan beat Thailand by 3–0 in the final. Okuhara didn't lose any of her match in Uber cup.[26] She went to World Championships in Nanjing as defending champion but lost to the player she beat in 2017 final P. V. Sindhu in 2 straight games in quarterfinals.[27] She won her first ever World Tour Title; the Thailand Open Super 500 by defeating P. V. Sindhu 21–15 and 18.[28] In addition, she reached five more finals and won 2 of them in Korea[29] and Hong Kong,[30] both Super 500 events. Her final finishes were in Japan Super 750 (lost to Carolina Marín)[31] Fuzhou Super 750 events (lost to Chen Yufei)[32] and World Tour Finals in Guangzhou to P. V. Sindhu.[33]

Okuhara reached the final of Singapore Open, but lost it to Tai Tzu-ying.[34] Also, she reached the final of Australia Open[35] & Japan Open[36] but lost to Chen Yufei and Akane Yamaguchi respectively. In the World Championships, she was seeded 3rd. She defeated He Bingjiao and Ratchanok Intanon; reached the final of this tournament once more and set her encounter with P. V. Sindhu. In a repeat clash of 2017 World Championships final, she was defeated 7–21, 7–21 by the Indian player, henceforth settled for the silver medal.[37] She succeeded in occupying the Ranking 1 of the world shifting Tai Tzu-ying on 29 October 2019.[38] She also contested the Denmark Open final, which she lost to Tai Tzu-ying with 17–21, 14–21 scores.[39] She was the runner-up in 6th straight tournament, after her defeat in the hands of Chen Yufei in Fuzhou China Open with the scores 21–9, 12–21, 18–21.[40] She took part in World Tour Finals in Guangzhou where she had best of starts; defeating all her opponents of group stage. But in semi finals, she was beaten by Tai Tzu-ying whom she has beaten in group stage earlier.

Okuhara won 2020 Denmark Open tournament after surpassing 3rd seed Carolina Marín in 2 games with scores 21–19, 21–17. This was the first time in 2 years that she won a World Tour title since her last at Hong Kong Open in 2018.[41]


Olympic GamesEdit

Women's singles

Year Venue Opponent Score Result
2016 Riocentro – Pavilion 4, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil   Li Xuerui Walkover   Bronze

BWF World ChampionshipsEdit

Women's singles

Year Venue Opponent Score Result
2017 Emirates Arena, Glasgow, Scotland   P. V. Sindhu 21–19, 20–22, 22–20   Gold
2019 St. Jakobshalle, Basel, Switzerland   P. V. Sindhu 7–21, 7–21   Silver

BWF World Junior ChampionshipsEdit

Girls' singles

Year Venue Opponent Score Result
2011 Taoyuan Arena, Taoyuan City, Taipei, Chinese Taipei   Ratchanok Inthanon 16–21, 16–21   Bronze
2012 Chiba Port Arena, Chiba, Japan   Akane Yamaguchi 21–12, 21–9   Gold

Asian Junior ChampionshipsEdit

Girls' singles

Year Venue Opponent Score Result
2012 Gimcheon Indoor Stadium, Gimcheon, South Korea   P. V. Sindhu 21–18, 17–21, 20–22   Silver

BWF World Tour (4 titles, 8 runners-up)Edit

The BWF World Tour, announced on 19 March 2017 and implemented in 2018,[42] is a series of elite badminton tournaments, sanctioned by Badminton World Federation (BWF). The BWF World Tour are divided into six levels, namely World Tour Finals, Super 1000, Super 750, Super 500, Super 300 (part of the HSBC World Tour), and the BWF Tour Super 100.[43]

Women's singles

Year Tournament Level Opponent Score Result
2018 Thailand Open Super 500   P. V. Sindhu 21–15, 21–18   Winner
2018 Japan Open Super 750   Carolina Marín 19–21, 21–17, 11–21   Runner-up
2018 Korea Open Super 500   Beiwen Zhang 21–10, 17–21, 21–16   Winner
2018 Fuzhou China Open Super 750   Chen Yufei 10–21, 16–21   Runner-up
2018 Hong Kong Open Super 500   Ratchanok Intanon 21–19, 24–22   Winner
2018 BWF World Tour Finals World Tour Finals   P. V. Sindhu 19–21, 17–21   Runner-up
2019 Singapore Open Super 500   Tai Tzu-ying 19–21, 15–21   Runner-up
2019 Australian Open Super 300   Chen Yufei 15–21, 3–21   Runner-up
2019 Japan Open Super 750   Akane Yamaguchi 13–21, 15–21   Runner-up
2019 Denmark Open Super 750   Tai Tzu-ying 17–21, 14–21   Runner-up
2019 Fuzhou China Open Super 750   Chen Yufei 21–9, 12–21, 18–21   Runner-up
2020 Denmark Open Super 750   Carolina Marín 21–19, 21–17   Winner

BWF Superseries (4 titles, 3 runners-up)Edit

The BWF Superseries, launched on 14 December 2006 and implemented in 2007,[44] is a series of elite badminton tournaments, sanctioned by Badminton World Federation (BWF). BWF Superseries has two level such as Superseries and Superseries Premier. A season of Superseries features twelve tournaments around the world, which introduced since 2011,[45] with successful players invited to the Superseries Finals held at the year end.

Women's singles

Year Tournament Opponent Score Result
2014 Hong Kong Open   Tai Tzu-ying 19–21, 11–21   Runner-up
2015 Japan Open   Akane Yamaguchi 21–18, 21–12   Winner
2015 Hong Kong Open   Carolina Marín 17–21, 21–18, 20–22   Runner-up
2015 Dubai World Superseries Finals   Wang Yihan 22–20, 21–18   Winner
2016 All England Open   Wang Shixian 21–11, 16–21, 21–19   Winner
2017 Australian Open   Akane Yamaguchi 21–12, 21–23, 21–17   Winner
2017 Korea Open   P. V. Sindhu 20–22, 21–11, 18–21   Runner-up
  BWF Superseries Finals tournament
  BWF Superseries Premier tournament
  BWF Superseries tournament

BWF Grand Prix (6 titles)Edit

The BWF Grand Prix had two levels, the BWF Grand Prix and Grand Prix Gold. It was a series of badminton tournaments sanctioned by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) which was held from 2007 to 2017.

Women's singles

Year Tournament Opponent Score Result
2012 Canada Open   Sayaka Takahashi 21–8, 21–16   Winner
2014 New Zealand Open   Kana Ito 21–15, 21–3   Winner
2014 Vietnam Open   Aya Ohori 21–15, 21–11   Winner
2014 Korea Grand Prix   Sayaka Sato 21–17, 21–13   Winner
2015 Malaysia Masters   Sayaka Takahashi 21–13, 21–17   Winner
2015 U.S. Open   Sayaka Sato 21–16, 21–14   Winner
  BWF Grand Prix Gold tournament
  BWF Grand Prix tournament

BWF International Challenge/Series (2 titles, 1 runner-up)Edit

Women's singles

Year Tournament Opponent Score Result
2010 Lao International   Nitchaon Jindapol 16–21, 17–21   Runner-up
2011 Austrian International   Mayu Sekiya 21–6, 21–16   Winner
2015 China International   Chen Yufei 21–19, 21–16   Winner
  BWF International Challenge tournament

Career overviewEdit

Record against selected opponentsEdit

Record against year-end Finals finalists, World Championships semi-finalists, and Olympic quarter-finalists. Accurate as of 18 October 2020.[46]


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External linksEdit