Nozomi Okuhara (奥原 希望, Okuhara Nozomi, born 13 March 1995) 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, and gold medal at the 2017 World Championships.
Okuhara at Australia Open Super Series 2017
|Birth name||Nozomi Okuhara|
|Born||13 March 1995|
Ōmachi, Nagano, Japan
|Height||1.56 m (5 ft 1 in)|
|Weight||51 kg (112 lb)|
|Career record||320 wins, 103 losses|
|Highest ranking||1 (29 October 2019)|
|Current ranking||4 (17 March 2020)|
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. The 16-year-old Okuhara became the youngest women's singles champion ever at the Japanese National Badminton Championships in 2011. 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, and helped her team in winning the mixed team title. She later clinched the gold medal at the World Junior Championships, 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. 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. She also won Vietnam Grand Prix and Korean Grand Prix titles. 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.
Okuhara won two Grand Prix Gold titles at Malaysia and United States. In both occasions, she got the better of her compatriots Sayaka Takahashi and Sayaka Sato respectively. She also won China International Challenge event. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
In 2017, okuhara claimed her first ever Australian Open title with a win over Akane Yamaguchi. 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. 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. 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. 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. She won her first ever World Tour Title; the Thailand Open Super 500 by defeating P. V. Sindhu 21–15 and 18. In addition, she reached five more finals and won 2 of them in Korea and Hong Kong, both Super 500 events. Her final finishes were in Japan Super 750 (lost to Carolina Marín) Fuzhou Super 750 events (lost to Chen Yufei) and World Tour Finals in Guangzhou to P. V. Sindhu.
Okuhara reached the final of Singapore Open, but lost it to Tai Tzu-ying. Also, she reached the final of Australia Open & Japan Open 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. She succeeded in occupying the Ranking 1 of the world shifting Tai Tzu-ying on 29 October 2019. She also contested the Denmark Open final, which she lost to Tai Tzu-ying with 17–21, 14–21 scores. 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. 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.
|2016||Riocentro – Pavilion 4, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||Li Xuerui||Walkover||Bronze|
BWF World ChampionshipsEdit
|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
|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
|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, 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.
|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, 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, with successful players invited to the Superseries Finals held at the year end.
|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 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.
|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 International Challenge/Series (2 titles, 1 runner-up)Edit
|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
Record against selected opponentsEdit
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