Saina surge ends in silver splendour

Badminton World Championships : Spain's Carolina Marin outguns India's champion in straight games for her second crown

Saina surge ends in silver splendour

 At the threshold of the world summit, Saina Nehwal was beaten by her own nerves before Carolina Marin began to work her magic around the court.

The Indian, frigid and defensive, succumbed in the final to fleet-footed world number one 16-21, 19-21 to end her World Championships in Jakarta in a heartbreak.

Nonetheless, she became the first Indian to win silver at the World Championships even as Marin defended the title with authority. It was indeed a brilliant display by the Spaniard whose run up to the tournament was riddled with injury and put her participation in doubt. She had struggled in the initial rounds but only grew better as the tournament progressed.

“I knew from the start that it will be a close final. She is a fighter but I am happy the way I played today,” said Marin.

It is the second time the Spaniard has denied Saina the greatness she had been pining for. Earlier this year, Saina lost to her 22-year-old opponent, in her maiden All England Championships final, from a winning position. She had never lost to Marin in their three meetings before the showpiece event. The loss, perhaps, still played on her mind.

“Today I didn’t play my best, I could’ve done better. In the second, I had a lead but points went by very quickly and within no time she was level,” Saina rued.

Marin glided around the court like a ballerina. Expectedly, the left-hander dictated the pace of the match with her fast, attacking shots and ruthless approach. She kept the points short, celebrating each time with a shrill scream and occasional fist pump. In fact, she had to be repeatedly warned by the chair umpire for her over-the-top reactions, taking excessive time between points, for flicking the sweat on court and even racquet abuse. But nothing dampened the spirit of Marin who surprisingly enjoyed the backing of a packed Istora Senayan arena. Her angles, deceptive and teasing; her smashes, steep and sharp, were too good and overwhelmed Saina who simply played into her hands on the day.

The Indian, brilliant in flashes, could never keep up her counter-attack. In no time, Marin had taken the first game despite some late fightback by Saina.

The World No 2 had her best chances in the second game when she opened up a 12-8 lead. But Marin, spectacularly slick in the rallies, plucked seven straight points to jump ahead 13-12. Thereafter, every attempt by Saina to become the first World Champion from India was thwarted. A misjudgement at the baseline gave Marin a crucial 19-18 lead. Minutes later, the Spaniard was stretched on the court, her tears washing away the disbelief of becoming the World Champion for the second time.  

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