India's Nehwal blows big chance in All-England final

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 08, 2015 11:10 AM

By Rod Gilmour

BIRMINGHAM (Reuters) - World champion Carolina Marin of Spain staged a remarkable comeback to win the All-England Championships on Sunday as Saina Nehwal blew the chance to become India's first woman winner.

Olympic bronze medalist Nehwal threw away a 6-1 lead in the second before the Spaniard pressed the throttle to land her first Superseries singles title 16-21 21-14 21-7.

"It is an amazing feeling," said Marin after her 62-minute win. "I was making too many easy mistakes and was really nervous at the start, but I just wanted to enjoy it.

"In the second game and at 11-9 down I felt there was a change and that I could win. To beat Saina is a great thing."

Both players said after their semi-finals that they did not feel any pressure, but the expectation leveled at Nehwal was made clear before Sunday's denouement when former Indian Test cricket star Sachin Tendulkar wished her luck on Twitter.

Nehwal was bidding to become the first All-England singles winner from India since her former coach Pullela Gopichand won the men's title 14 years ago.

And the odds were stacked in her favor to achieve a fourth victory over the Spaniard -- the Indian having already beaten Marin to the Syed Modi International title in January -- after running away with the first game.

After a tentative start Nehwal opened up an 11-6 lead, offering stout defense against Marin's attacking forays to the net, which more often than not finished with an arm-clenched celebration if she won the point.

She soon held eight game points before Marin finally found some rhythm to win four rallies in a row, though Nehwal finished the game with a smash from the net.

Marin's game failed to materialize in the early throes of the second. At 3-1 down, she saw a flighted lift from Nehwal land in, went wide with a forehand smash on the next point before a fierce winner from the Indian opened up a five-point lead.

But Marin began to find her rhythm and at 8-4 down secured a run of eight successive points as Nehwal ran out of ideas.

"The game just went away from me," admitted Nehwal.

"I was playing very cool but I began to hurry my shots and I made errors. I tried to play it safe."

(Editing by Martyn Herman)