New Delhi: A profligate defending champion Saina Nehwal faltered at the final hurdle, failing to complete the hat-trick of titles at the Indonesia Open Super Series after losing to Chinese world number three Yihan Wang in the final on Sunday.
Fourth seed Saina, who won the title in 2009 and 2010, frittered away a match point en route to a 21-12 21-23 14-21 loss to her equally error-prone rival.
In a contest which lasted a little over an hour, Saina gained from Wang's numerous errors of judgments, misplaced shots and her own trademark smashes to clinch the opening game rather easily.
Wang committed 12 unforced errors in the opening game. But the Chinese recovered in the second game and although the number of unforced errors did not improve, Saina helped her rival's cause by trying too hard to hurry up the proceedings.
The result was 10 unforced errors for the Indian, who also struggled to connect the smashes that more often than not had bailed her out in crunch situations.
Wang was quick to pounce on the chance and took 11-8 lead at the change of ends.
The Chinese was cruising along 17-14 before Saina smashed her way back again to make it 20-19. The Indian had a match point in hand but Wang fought back to make the scoreline 21-21 before clinching the game 23-21.
The shift in momentum was evident in the third game and though the two players went neck-and-neck till 9-9, it was clear that Wang had gained in confidence while Saina's game began to fall apart.
Saina's stock smashes were not getting the desired result as Wang showed better judgment on the baseline. In fact, Wang managed nine smash winners compared to Saina's two in the deciding game.
The heartbreaking loss continues a rather unimpressive year for Saina who had won three titles - Indian Open Grand Prix Gold, Singapore Super Series and Indonesian Super Series - in June 2010, before winning the Commonwealth Games gold medal and the Hong Kong Super Series.
Half-way through 2011, Saina has just one title -Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold to her name.