Nozomi Okuhara, who won Japan’s maiden world championships gold last month, said Tuesday she is ready to claim her second Japan Open badminton tournament title this week.
“Of course my goal is to win again,” said Okuhara, the winner of the 2015 meet and a Rio de Janeiro Olympics bronze medalist. “But since this is a home (event), I want my Japanese fans to watch me play. I’ll try my best to stay in the tournament as long as possible.”
At the worlds, Okuhara defeated Rio silver medalist Pusarla Sindhu of India in a rematch of the Olympic semifinals, where she was defeated in straight sets.
“When I won the Japan Open, I never imagined I would go on to get a medal at the Olympics and a world championships title,” said Okuhara.
However, on Sunday at the Korean Open, the world No. 4 Sindhu beat No. 9 Okuhara 2-1.
The two shuttlers could face each other in the second round on Thursday at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
“Tournaments like the Super Series are tough from the first round, so I’ll stay focused on my first round first,” Okuhara said. “I’ll be very excited if we can face each other.”
Sindhu said she will also concentrate on her first match on Wednesday against Minatsu Mitani, whom she beat in a “tough” match at the Korea Open.
In the men’s singles, Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen aims to continue his momentum after defeating China’s two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan and Rio gold medalist Chen Long at the world championships.
“After the world championships, I’m still hungry for more so hopefully I can do well this week,” the world No. 2 Axelsen said.
“To win the world championships was of course a dream coming true, but I also think that the men’s singles is so competitive at the moment. Hopefully I can continue my good form and let’s see what happens in the future.”
Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei seeks his seventh title here, while Lin aims for his fourth.