Marathon match lasted 1 hour 51 minutes
She had cramps and at the end of the match had difficulty breathing – Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara earned a standing ovation for from the fans at the Putra Stadium for her never say die attitude before surrendering her women’s singles quarter-final match against China’s former world No 1 Wang Shixian 19-21, 21-15, 20-22 which lasted 1 hour 51 minutes.
The marathon match is probably one of the longest singles matches played in a tournament in the history of badminton – as badminton fans at the stadium kept glued to Court 2 and taking glances at other matches on courts 1 and 3.
In the end the 20-year-old Japanese who could help crying had to be helped by her coaches to the mixed zone where she collapsed in pain before being given a piggy ride to the medical room.
It was only a quarter-final match but it was more than a final between the experienced Shixian, who was quick to admit that “it is surprise that I could stay in the match” and what more when Nozomi never gave up.
It was without doubt Shixian’s experience that took her through against the gutsy performance which she will long remember. Nozomi was retrieving impossible shots to frustrate the Chinese but in the end it was the extra touch in experience that made the difference.
Nozomi was 19-16 in front in the first set but her lack of experience saw Shixian reel off five points in a row for a 21-19 win. In the second, Nozomi, a former junior world champion, dictated play and walked away with a 21-15 win to force a rubber. In the decider it was a touch and go affair with players exchanging the leads but once again Shixian kept her cool.
Shixian’s winning point had all the badminton luck when her smash hit the net and toppled over into Nozomi’s court for a 22-20 victory.
Japan’s chief coach Park Joo Bong later said: “Nozomi has recovered and is okay.”
A badminton official said he cannot remember a singles match lasting this long.