Japan Open 2017 is all set for a blockbuster day as two high-profile women's singles second round matches will be played on Thursday, September 21.
India's PV Sindhu will take on her arch-rival Nozomi Okuhara (Japan) for the third time in less than a month, in Tokyo. While their last two clashes came at the final of World Championships and Korea Open, the two in-form shuttlers are meeting as early as the second round this time.
On the other hand, World Championships bronze medallist Saina Nehwal takes on reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin in what is expected to be another tightly-fought encounter of the day.
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Sindhu vs Okuhara - Another marathon encounter?
Start time: Not before 3:45pm local, 12:15pm IST
Two matches, two marathons! Sindhu was beaten by Okuhara in the world meet final that extended to an hour and 50 minutes last month.
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The world number two exacted revenge on the lower-ranked Japanese shuttler at the Korea Open final earlier this week with a 22-20, 11-21, 21-18 in an hour and 23 minutes.
There are high chances of another fiercely-fought encounter as both the shuttlers, who are enjoying a purple patch, would not want to exit the tournament as early as in the second round.
Fourth seed Sindhu will have to battle fatigue as the 22-year-old was tested in her first-round encounter on Wednesday, September 20 against Minatsu Mitani. The Indian shuttler edged past the unseeded Japanese shuttler 12-21, 21-15, 21-17 in an hour and four minutes.
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However, Sindhu has showcased extraordinary fitness levels over the last month and thus will be expected to fight toe-to-toe with Okuhara on Thursday.
Okuhara, who defeated Cheung Ngan Yi in straight games on Wednesday, will once again look to tire Sindhu out with her impeccable net play.
The live scores of the the two women's singles matches can be followed on BWF's official website. (No offical live streaming and TV coverage available for today's matches)
Saina vs Marin - Resumption of famed rivalry
Start time: Not before 6pm local, 2:30pm IST
Before Sindhu vs Okuhara or even Sindhu vs Marin, Saina and Marin contests generated a lot of buzz. After more than a year the two shuttlers, who have met seven times, including the 2015 World Championships final, will have a go at each other on Thursday in Tokyo.
Saina decimated Thailand's Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-17, 21-9 in just 40 minutes on Wednesday and she will be heading into the much-anticipated tie on Thursday on a high.
The world number 12 has been in fine form in the recent past and seems to have recovered well from the knee issues that had been troubling her ever since the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The rejuvenated Saina, who chose rest over Korea Open after winning a World Championships bronze last month, starts as favourite for Thursday's clash. Notably, she enjoys a 4-3 head-to-head record over Marin.
On the other hand, the Spaniard has been below-par in the recent past, facing early exits in Indonesia, Australia and in Glasgow.
Marin, who had finished runner-up in India, Malaysia and Singapore earlier this year, though is capable of stepping up. However, she needs to buckle up if she has to stand a chance against her in-form opponent.