An erratic Saina Nehwal let slip the early advantage as she went down to world number one Wang Yihan in the summit clash to sign off as runner-up in the BWF season-ending World Super Series Finals in Liuzhou, China on Sunday.
The world number four, the first Indian to make the final of the prestigious event, lost 21-18 13-21 13-21 against the Chinese in a contest lasting over an hour.
With this win, Yihan kept her 100 per cent record against Saina intact, having now beaten her in all their four faceoffs so far.
In the first game, leading 11-8, Saina failed to judge the sharp drops from Yihan who mixed her shots very well to deceive the Indian and level the game at 14-14.
Good netplay coupled with some precise cross-court shots gave Saina a game point and she made it count by pushing Yihan to yet another unforced error, stunning the home fans into silence.
There was never a dull moment in the second game too as they fought a see-saw battle and moved neck and neck. Saina's anticipation was good but Yihan's accuracy again made the India's life difficult. At 5-7, Saina involved Yihan in a long rally and earned a point with her trademark body smash.
Saina covered the court well but Yihan still managed to push the shuttle in irretrievable areas to gain points.
Saina levelled at 8-8 with a sharp drop shot which Yihan had no clue about but a couple of unforced errors by the Indian, along with some quick drops, allowed the Indian to go into the break with her nose ahead at 11-9.
A stunning rally and some brilliant retrieves helped Saina to once again level at 11-11. Yihan pinned Saina to the baseline and led 15-11 with the Indian hitting wide.
As Saina faltered with her return shots and succumbed to unforced errors, Yihan widened the lead to 18-11. Though Saina earned two quick points but once again she hit outside to give Yihan the game point at 20-13 and the Chinese didn't waste any time to roar back into the contest at 21-13.
Back on the winning side of the court, Saina's brush with unforced errors allowed Yihan to lead 3-0. Though the Indian earned a couple of points, Yihan still led 6-3.
Yihan started dominating the proceedings and dictated the pace of the game and with a few sharp cross-court drops and angled smashes moved to 9-3.
Saina slowly gathered herself and narrowed the gap to 6-9 but with Saina losing a point at the net, the Chinese had her nose ahead at 11-7. After the break, Saina earned a point but a wide shot allowed Yihan to move to 14-8.
Unforced errors proved to be Saina's bane as Yihan earned some more points to 17-8. The Indian gained a couple of points but with her return shots finding the net, Yihan moved to 18-11 before closing it with a smash.
This is Yihan's sixth title of the year, which includes the World Championships crown. For Saina, this is her third finish as runners-up.