BASEL • After coming so close to becoming badminton's world champion, only to falter in the final more than once, P.V. Sindhu could finally celebrate the "best moment" of her life yesterday.
The 24-year-old became the first Indian to win gold at the BWF World Championships as she took just 36 minutes to crush third seed Nozomi Okuhara 21-7, 21-7 in a one-sided contest yesterday.
She took sweet revenge on the Japanese, who was victor of an epic final in Glasgow two years ago.
Sindhu was twice a losing finalist at the 2016 Olympic Games and last year's World Championships to Spain's Carolina Marin. She also won the bronze in the 2013 and 2014 world meet.
She told Badminton Europe: "I'm really very happy. Silver, and silver and finally a world champion. It was a great tournament for me. I really prepared my game and gave 100 per cent."
Having had to beat Taiwanese Tai Tzu-ying (No. 2) and China's Chen Yufei (No. 4) en route to the final, fifth seed Sindhu was proud of coming through a tough draw.
Number of times P.V. Sindhu was on the World Championships' podium before she topped it. She was third in 2013 and 2014 before finishing runner-up in 2017 and 2018.
She said: "Each player has a different style. You can't play the same game against everybody. I had to think and strategise accordingly.
"There were long rallies, but I didn't take any chance or make any easy mistakes. When playing against Japanese players, you have to be ready for long rallies and I think I did that."
She also acknowledged her pride in meeting weighty expectations to become the first Indian world champion, saying: "Everybody expected a lot, since two years ago when I first got silver.
"But a lot of people saw my match and I'm thankful for them. When the national anthem was there, the flag flying high, it was definitely a proud moment for me being Indian."
Beaten finalist Okuhara, who was inconsolable after the match, said: "I am very, very sad. This tournament is very special to me, and to be in the final also but I couldn't defend, and couldn't make my plays."
Despite her loss, Japanese shuttlers laid down the gauntlet ahead of next year's Tokyo Olympics by contesting four of five World Championships' categories, winning two.
Top seed Kento Momota's successful defence of his men's singles title came with a comfortable win over Denmark's Anders Antonsen.
The world No. 1 took only 38 minutes to register a 21-9, 21-3 win over his Danish opponent, who had the backing of the St Jakobshalle crowd.
Momota said: "I didn't think it would go that smoothly, I'm probably most surprised it went this way.
"The feelings after winning this year are much stronger. I'm really, really happy to be in this position."
Japan also took the women's doubles title through top seeds Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara, who beat compatriots Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota.
China's Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong were mixed doubles winners in the only final not featuring a Japanese player. They beat Thai pair Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai 21-8, 21-12.
The other winners at this year's tournament were the Indonesian men's doubles pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan, who beat Japan's Yugo Kobayashi and Takuro Hoki.