Jakarta (Indonesia), Aug 16: It was heartbreak for India's ace shuttler Saina Nehwal and millions of her fans as she lost the BWF World Badminton Championships final 16-21, 19-21 to Carolina Marin of Spain here on Sunday (August 16).
Despite stumbling at the final hurdle, 25-year-old Saina created history by giving India its first ever silver medal in World Championships. The previous 4 were all bronze.
It was 2nd consecutive time this year that the world number 1 Spaniard had denied the Indian a victory in the final. The duo had met in March when Saina was beaten by Carolina 21-16, 14-21, 7-21 at the All England Open final. (Kumble, Jwala congratulate Saina)
After a good opening to the final at Istora - Gelora Bung Karno arena, where Saina raced to a 7-5 lead, the left-handed opponent bounced back to win 4 successive points to lead 11-7 at the mini-break. The defending champion got stronger and wrapped up the game 21-16 in 24 minutes though India's world number 2 saved 3 game points.
Again the 2nd game, Saina held the advantage with a similar lead of 7-5 only to squander it. The Hyderabad girl, who won bronze at 2012 London Olympics was ahead 12-7 but Marin rallied to a 13-12 score.
Though Saina kept fighting hard to get back to 17-15 advantage, the Spaniard was in no mood to give up as she won the title with 21-19 scoreline in the 2nd game. The match lasted 59 minutes.
"I never thought I'd reach the final," Saina had said yesterday (August 15).
"I'm so happy to get a medal at the World Championships because I've never made it past the quarter-finals in previous editions," Saina was quoted as saying by the tournament's website after her semi-final win against Lindaweni Fanetri.
"I always had difficult draws and would run into a Chinese in the quarter-final. There was a mental block. This time too I had to play Wang Yihan, it was almost like a final. I love playing in Indonesia," she added.
"I just want to do well. With Carolina Marin in the final, it will be tricky. She has some fast-paced strokes. It will be a different match compared to the All England final since the conditions are different," Saina had said.
India's medals at World Championships - 5
1983 - Prakash Padukone (Men's Singles) - Bronze
2011 - Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa (Women's Doubles) - Bronze
2013 and 2014 - PV Sindhu (Women's Singles) - Bronze
2015 - Saina Nehwal (Women's Singles) - Silver
Saina's road to the silver medal
1st Round - Bye
2nd Round - Beat Cheung Ngan Yi (Hong Kong) 21-13, 21-19 (Won in 33 minutes)
Round of 16 - Beat Sayaka Takahashi (Japan) 21-18, 21-14 (47 minutes)
Quarter-final - Beat Wang Yihan (China) 21-15, 19-21, 21-19 (1 hour and 12 minutes)
Semi-final - Beat Lindaweni Fanetri (Indonesia) 21-17, 21-17 (55 minutes)
Final - Lost to Carolina Marin (Spain) 16-21, 19-21 (59 minutes)