Indian badminton star PV Sindhu suffered a heartbreaking straight-game (21-19, 21-10) loss in the BWF World Championships 2018 women's singles final against Carolina Marin on Sunday, August 5 in Nanjing, China.
Sindhu had no answers to the ruthlessness and pace of Marin as the Spaniard went on to create history by becoming the first woman to win three world championships gold medals.
Marin had earlier won the prestigious world meet in 2015, beating Sindhu's senior compatriot Saina Nehwal, a year after her winning her maiden crown in 2014.
On the other hand, it was the fourth world championships medal for Sindhu — two bronze medals (2013 and 2014) and two silver medals (2017, 2018).
This was also Sindhu's third straight defeat in a major final following the Rio Olympics and the Glasgow world meet last year. Sindhu has reached four finals, including the Commonwealth Games gold medal match, this year but is yet to win a title.
Marin plays mind games, outpaces Sindhu
Sindhu had finished second best in last year's final after a 110-minute marathon against Japan's Nozomi Okuhara as both the shuttlers pushed themselves to the limits in the three-game epic.
However, in contrast to the Glasgow gold medal match, Sindhu showed very little character throughout the 45-minute encounter against Marin earlier today.
The reigning Olympic champion dictated the pace the rallies from the word go in the big final. Initially, it looked like the Spaniard was forcing the play a bit too much as she hit a few down the line smashes wide.
Marin though played mind games in the middle. She was constantly rushing Sindhu when the latter was not ready to return her serves on multiple occasions. The Indian shuttler started to deliberately delay after a particular point and was warned by the chair umpire.
From 15-11, Marin fought back with aggression that deflated Sindhu's spirits. After closing out the first game with her second game point, the 25-year-old looked an indomitable force in the second.
Sindhu looked like she had given up as Marin raced to a five-point lead before heading into the mid-game break at 11-3. There was no way back for the Hyderabad shuttler as her left-handed opponent maintained the intensity throughout.
Coach Pullela Gopichand tried to rally on his Indian ward in the second game but his efforts failed as Sindhu seemed to have lost the mental battle already.
When Saina found Marin's pace too hot to handle
Barring the European Championships, Marin was nowhere close to her top form.
However, in Nanjing, the Olympic champion looked determined and outclassed her opponents with her unparalleled pace, which had even caught Saina by surprise in the quarter-final.
The 29-year-old London Olympic bronze medalist quipped after her 21-6, 21-11 defeat on Friday that she had found Marin moving "so fast" across the court and hitting shots at pace.
Sindhu's spirits would have taken a beating after the one-sided loss and she has a lot of work to do ahead of the much-anticipated Asian Games, starting August 18 in Jakarta.