P V Sindhu finished second best yet again in a major tournament final as she went down tamely to Carolina Marin in the World Championships' women's singles title clash, adding to the Indian's tale of woes, in Nanjing, on Sunday.
The Olympic silver medallist settled for another white metal in the showpiece following a 19-21 10-21 loss to Olympic champion Marin of Spain. Interestingly, Marin had also defeated Sindhu in the final of the Rio Olympics in 2016.
"It is very frustrating to loss again. Last time also I had played the finals. It is quite sad and I have to come back stronger and get back to the sessions and prepare for the next tournament," said Sindhu, who suffered her fourth final loss this season.
"Sometimes it is not your day, ups and downs will always be there and you have to always be stronger.
"A bit sad because I was expecting a good one but overall a good match and I am happy I came to the finals and winning and losing are parts of life and I have to take it as it is," she added.
Since 2016, it is Sindhu's eighth loss in major finals, including defeats at Rio Olympics, Hong Kong Open (2017, 2018), Super Series Final (2017), India Open (2018) and Thailand Open (2018).
The 23-year-old Sindhu, who had lost an epic final to Japan's Nozomi Okuhara at Glasgow last year, didn't have answers to Marin's blistering pace in the 45 minutes that the match lasted.
The second silver meant Sindhu is the only Indian to have four world championships podium finishes. She had won two bronze medals at the 2013 Guangzhou and 2014 Copenhagen editions.
Marin became the first woman shuttler to win the world championships thrice. She had won the title in 2014 and the 2015 Jakarta edition.
"I can't express my emotions. I have so many emotions inside me. I have been waiting for this moment long time. I am happy I could believe in myself this week," Marin said.
Sindhu had entered the summit clash with a 5-6 loss-win head-to-head against Marin, but the Indian ace had won the last meeting at the Malaysian Open in June.
"Carolina has that speed and she is very aggressive. She played very fast and quick paced during the tournament. I was prepared for her pace game," Sindhu said.'
The feisty Martin tried to put pressure on Sindhu by celebrating each point with her trademark scream while parading the court.
Sindhu lagged 1-3 early on but the Indian slowly made her way to grab a 4-3 lead after producing a brilliant drop. She extended it to 6-4.
With Sindhu in full flow, the left-handed spaniard tried to put the shot close to the line but ended up committing too many unforced errors as Sindhu led 11-8 at the break after Martin sent the shuttle out thrice.
Sindhu extended the lead to 15-11 after the breather but she found the net twice and also hit wide to allow Marin claw back at 15-15. The Spaniard then unleashed a smash from near the net to turn the tables.
A lucky net chord and then Marin went wide, helping Sindhu to lead 18-17 but a weak return from the Indian and it was equal again.
A smash by Marin and Sindhu hitting wide gave two game points to the Spaniard and she converted on the second chance.
Marin began the second game with her usual aggressive demeanour as Sindhu found her pace too hot to handle. The Spaniard soon raced to a 5-0 lead.
The 25-year-old Marin used her body smashes and acute angled strokes to set up the points. Sindhu couldn't match up to the aggression of the Spaniard and also couldn't slow down the game as Marin continued to gather points.
She moved to the interval with a massive 11-2 lead.
After the breather, Marin continued to dominate the proceedings, pushing her opponent to commit errors as Sindhu hit wide and found the nets.
Two body returns gave Sindhu two points but the Indian continued to struggle to keep the shuttle inside the court and leaked points. Eventually two unforced errors handed Marin her third title.
"I think overall, she played much better. If I could have won the first game it could have been different. In the second game, I made too many errors, my smashes were going out. I can just say it was not my day," Sindhu said.
"I was leading 14-9 in the first game, I gave easy points. I made errors when I tried to get back into the pace. I should have been more patient at 19-19. She was attacking well."