JAKARTA, June 26 (IANS): India's Saina Nehwal went down to Chinese Yihan Wang 21-12, 21-23, 14-21 in a gruelling tussle in the final of the Indonesia Open Super Series badminton here Sunday.
Fourth-seed Saina was a point away from clinching her third successive Indonesia Open title but she squandered a matchpoint at 20-19, Wang roared her way back into the match that lasted a little over an hour.
Nevertheless, the runners up position will give much-needed boost to Saina, 21, who has not had a good run recently and has been toubled by her knee.
She lost in the quarterfinals in the Thailand Open and then made a second round exit in teh Singapore Open, where she was the defending champion.
On Sunday, World No. 4 Saina, egged on by a vociferous crowd, began the final with a flourish. She kept herself ahead of the World No.3, who beat the Indian in the Uber Cup this year.
Saina was patient in constructing the points and clinical with the finish. She kept Wang guessing with her change of pace and moved her all around the court.
Saina used the cross-court shots to perfection. She opened up a 9-6 lead, but Wang levelled. Saina kept the pressure on Wang. From 12-12, the Indian surged ahead to take the lead.
Wang engaged Saina in long ralies in the second game and that paid off. The Chinese established a 10-7 lead.
Saina did not allow the gap to widen and made a strong return to level 19-19 much to the surprise of Wang.
The Indian could not convert the match point and Wang was quick to pounce on the opportunity and level the match in her second game point.
Wang grew in confidence in the third game and stroked with precision. Her down the line shots were effective.
Saina initially led 7-4 before Wang twice won six points at a stretch. Down 6-9, the Chinese moved ahead to lead 12-9.
When Saina caught up with her, she again reeled off six points to lead 18-12 and crossed the finishing line.
The title was Wang's second Super Series Premier title of the year. She had earlier won the Korea Open.
Saina's only title this year has been the Swiss Open Grand Prix with two runners up finishes at Malaysia and now Indonesia.
Saina got her touch back on her favourite turf. She beat Tine Baun in the quarterfinal which was her first win over the Dane in three meetings.
She then defeated giant-killer Cheng Shao Chieh in the semifinal. The Chinese Taipei player had upset top seed Shixian Wang of China in the second round and also defeated Saina in the Singapore Open last week.